hitch-22, by christopher hitchens

October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

This man’s life. I would like to make it into a novel. No, a biopic. No, a hysterical bullet-strewn manga, serialized over an extended period of time to ramp up anticipation for the next breathless installment. What will the Hitch be doing next? Exposing corrupt electioneering practices in India? Vivisecting Kim-Jong-il during an interview on worldwide TV? Caning Noam Chomsky over his knee?

Hitchens is a jetsetting journalist, rancoteur, saboteur, polemicist, lecturer, literary critic, and avowed liberal pugilist. At Oxford, he was arrested multiple times for protesting basically everything. He stood atop overturned milk carts in public squares and shouted into bullhorns. He and fellow leftists terrorized officials from the British government’s foreign ministry. His debate skills were famed across the land (what a coincidence — details of these may just benefit one of my current WIPs). As a journalist, he covered dictatorships in Latin America and repressive Communist regimes in Czechslovakia, and was ranked on the state enemies list of the fascist government of Portugal before that regime was felled. He counts among his friends and acquaintances names like Ted Hughes, W.H. Auden, Salman Rushdie, Borges, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Hugo Chavez, Kai Bird, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Bil Clinton, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, and Edward Said. Early on in his career he was spanked with a rolled up brochure by Margaret Thatcher in a public forum. He writes sentences like these:

“My looks had degenerated to the point where only women would sleep with me.”

When you type “Christopher” into google, his is the first name to come up, ahead of Christopher Nolan, Christopher Columbus, and Christopher Meloni.

And I will never forget the comedic stunner in this article, which is how he came to my attention in the first place:

“I was hugely impressed by the way that the boss scorned this overture. He essentially doubted the existence of al-Qaida, let alone reports of its attacks on the enemy to the north. “I don’t know anything about Osama Bin Laden that doesn’t come to me through the filter of the West and its propaganda.” To this, Penn replied that surely Bin Laden had provided quite a number of his very own broadcasts and videos. I was again impressed by the way that Chávez rejected this proffered lucid-interval lifeline. All of this so-called evidence, too, was a mere product of imperialist television. After all, “there is film of the Americans landing on the moon,” he scoffed. “Does that mean the moon shot really happened? In the film, the Yanqui flag is flying straight out. So, is there wind on the moon?” As Chávez beamed with triumph at this logic, an awkwardness descended on my comrades, and on the conversation.

Chávez, in other words, is very close to the climactic moment when he will announce that he is a poached egg and that he requires a very large piece of buttered toast so that he can lie down and take a soothing nap.”

Big booming belly laugh.

In sum, flabbergasted. How can one person’s life be so packed with things? I haven’t even finished this book yet. I have my judgement about the boys-clubby vibe of the London literary scene (in a word: L-A-M-E), and there’s even this putrid section on how Hitchens and pal went to a handjob parlor and were made to feel so uncomfortable and horrid and exploited because those awful females who they had hired to attend to them smiled weird and haggled when it came to the pricing of their services. (Hi Hitch, you’re pretty cool, but this most emphatically is my middle finger stabbing in the direction of your face.) I think it was meant to be a comedic take on how ghastly and farcical it is when sex becomes a matter of economic transaction, but it definitely doesn’t help that Hitchens … really doesn’t demonstrate empathy for the feminist perspective? Like, almost never? What with his statements about how women aren’t funny and all.

But in general, I like this a great deal. Especially interesting to me are his meditations on the various “kinds” of liberals, and liberal values, and how disillusioning it is to watch entrenched leftist parties grow steadily more toothless, or oppressive, and then finally fail. I think it’s relevant to myself, as I attempt to figure out my own political beliefs.

And I am now seized by the powerful urge to write Hitchens/Martin Amis platonic OTP for life. Y/Y?


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