Buckley on Hitchens
From Christopher Buckley at The New Yorker:
I first saw his J’accuse in The Nation against—oh, Christopher!—Mother Teresa when my father mailed me a Xerox of it. He had scrawled a note across the top, an instruction to the producer of his TV show “Firing Line”: “I never want to lay eyes on this guy again.” W.F.B. had provided Christopher with his first appearances on U.S. television. The rest is history—the time would soon come when you couldn’t turn on a television without seeing Christopher railing against Kissinger, Mother (presumptive saint) T., Princess Diana, or Jerry Falwell.
But even W.F.B., who tolerated pretty much anything except attacks on his beloved Catholic Church and its professors, couldn’t help but forgive. “Did you see the piece on Chirac by your friend Hitchens in the Journal today?” he said one day, with a smile and an admiring sideways shake of the head. “Absolutely devastating!”
From Lauren Collins, eighteen months ago at The New Yorker on Hitchens‘ memoir, Hitch-22:
Christopher Eric Hitchens (Hitchens: that’s Cornish) was born in Portsmouth in 1949, into a “family of Tories who had nothing to be Tory about.” His father, whom the family called the Commander, was an officer in the Royal Navy. He wasn’t much of a talker. One morning, Hitchens, age eight, tottered downstairs in his jammies to find the Commander baking eggs in the kitchen. Hitchens asked his father if he could join him for breakfast. “Bloody hell,” the Commander said. “It’ll be family prayers next.” When Yvonne, Hitchens’s mother, was fifty-two, she left the Commander for a poet who had become a devotee of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In 1973, Hitchens travelled to Athens to claim her body from a hotel room, where she and her lover had committed suicide. “I know if she had heard my voice it would have steadied her,” Hitchens told the crowd at the Y.
From Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair:
“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.