Cannonball Read IV: Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
"Stay with me. I've done the hard thinking for you." --Christopher Hitchens
Truer words, Mr. Hitchens. This collection of essays, Arguably, is an amalgam from his contributions to Vanity Fair, Slate, The Guardian, and The Atlantic, as well as some introductions to other novels, etc. What a collection! I thoroughly enjoyed every essay, even those with which I did not agree. The Hitchens approach is one of carefully thought out, well-reasoned, and eloquent (and often hilarious) design. His eye is keen, his wit is sharp, and though this tome was 750 pages (or 45 hours on audiobook), I flew through it.
The topics discussed were so wide in range, I'll admit I was skeptical that he would be able to a) keep my interest in topics I would not have chosen to read and b) address each topic with the same degree of insight and passion. I was wrong on both counts, and delightfully to be so. Waterboarding, Hitler, Marx, Graham Greene, the Flashman series, September the 11th - all discussed beautifully and insightfully. He even had essays on the Harry Potter series, and Stieg Larssen. It was a fascinating few days.
Mixed in with the more heady topics were those of the naughty sense of humor for which Hitchens is known, including my favorite piece: "As American as Apple Pie," a history of the American ascendancy of fellatio. Another famous piece, "Why Women Aren't Funny," was just as irreverent and well-written as the first time I read it.
Threads run through the essays, with allusions to Animal Farm, 1984, Evelyn Waugh, and September the 11th appearing often. I am grateful to Hitchens for introducing me to Rebecca West and Elmo Zumwalt, two authors I am eager to read.
I had a lot of respect for Mr. Hitchens before reading this collection of works. Now, however, I find myself mourning his passing as though he was a dear family friend. He is truly missed.
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)
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