He was a man of abundant gifts, Christopher: erudition, wit, argument, prose style, to say nothing of a titanium constitution that, until it betrayed him in the end, allowed him to write word-perfect essays while the rest of us were groaning from epic hangovers and reaching for the ibuprofen. But his greatest gift of all may have been the gift of friendship.
The review, as may be evident by the quote, also serves as an obituary of sorts. I’ve read a few obits of Hitch, but this one—combined with a look at some of Hitchens’ amusing observations toward the end—is especially nice to read. (One: “Ordinary expressions like ‘expiration date’ . . . will I outlive my Amex? My driver’s license? People say — I’m in town on Friday: will you be around? what a question!”) Arguably, as Buckley notes, really is a fantastic collection.
Chris Buckley’s written a couple pretty good books himself, and he’s one of the few true satiric novelists out there anymore. I happened to meet him after an Atlantic Magazine event in Chicago a few years ago—he was about as delightfully funny and witty as he praises his friend Hitchens for being (and perhaps even more patient than Hitch would be with a starstruck college kid). What I would have given to be present for some of those dinner parties.