Homage to Hitchens - Macleans.ca

Homage to Hitchens

The author has called off his book tour. I really, really hope he’s ok.


Christopher Hitchens is one of my heroes. If his book sales are any indication, I’m not alone in this. I have a copy of Hitch-22 sitting on my desk that I started a few weeks ago, and put down after ten pages because I realized once I got into it, it was going to occupy all my thoughts and attention for a good stretch of time. So that’s this long weekend’s project.

Hitchens  has been on a punishing book tour — lucky fellow —  that he cancelled indefinitely today, citing personal reasons (and amidst rumours he was seen being stretchered off an airplane).

One of Hitchens’ own heroes is Orwell, and his admiration for Orwell’s writing sometimes tips from homage to parody. Which is this? Maybe we can ask Queen Elizabeth while she’s here:

“One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist and feminist in England.” — Orwell, Wigan Pier


“The heir to the throne seems to possess the ability to surround himself—perhaps by some mysterious ultramagnetic force?—with every moon-faced spoon-bender, shrub-flatterer, and water-diviner within range.” — Hitchens, on Prince Charles.


I really, really hope he’s ok.


Homage to Hitchens

  1. "I really, really hope he's ok."

    So do I. I've been a fan of Hitchens since I stumbled upon "The Missionary Position" at Indigo when I was 17. It would truly be a shame if his condition (if the rumour is true) is serious. Then again, he's pretty much a workaholic. He always seems to be doing interviews, debates, and speeches. Debating with Bible-thumping Christians for over a year would certainly put a strain on my health.

    One of my favourite Hitchens quote:

    Interviewer to Hitchens on C-Span: "How much longer are you going to do this?"

    Hitchens' response: "'Till I drop."

    Get better and never shut up Hitch!

    • One of my Heroes also…watched all his debates the man is PERHAPS the most amazing thinker/speaker
      I have ever had the pleasure to know ..although for such intellect he is a heavy smoker and drinker with
      all the symptoms of bad health habits…Please be well Christopher

  2. I'll pray for his recovery.

    • When Daniel Dennett, another one of the "four atheists," got seriously ill, a close friend stated that he will pray for his recovery. To which Dennett replied "Will you sacrifice a goat as well?"

      • Yes, one often encounters basic confusion concerning the difference between the Old Testament and the New. A comprehensive education should address this – if only from the perspective of understanding the roots of and religious influences in societies today, but few now receive such an education.

        • Gaunilon,

          I used to lump you in with the Con-bots and I would become apoplectic with some of the things you used to write. However, of late I have found myself agreeing with much of what you have had to say, even the occasional political observation.


          • One of us should be worried.

          • Don't worry for me. I'm still a full-on progressive, enviro whatever. I just also happen to live in the real world.

            Maybe you're the one losing your edge. ;-)

      • I thought it went like this:__(Friend at his bedside) "We have been praying for you"__(Dennett) "I forgive you"__Of course nothing is for certain and I could be wrong.

  3. Good call putting it off until you have time — it is completely engrossing and will, in fact, linger and pale whatever you read right after.

    I hope he's okay, too. He has no heir apparent and it's too soon to go looking.

  4. "Christopher Hitchens is one of my heroes."

    That explains a lot.

    • don't be so coy, what do you mean? Or is it just your typical virtual drive by smear?

      • What do you mean what do I mean?

        Porterhouse's worship of Hitchens explains a lot about Porterhouse. As Hitchens writes in his memoir, it tells us about how he thinks. Which in strictly literary terms is arguable more important and is definitely more interesting than the actual lacuna of what he thinks.

  5. Not much of a Hitchens fan here, I guess: I try to listen to him, when the opportunity presents itself, but I have zero attention span and very shortly I'm off to something else. Maybe I just perceive that he would find anything **I** have to say equally uncompelling to devout attention, and would likewise very shortly be off to something else.

    Ironically, however, with respect to the lead story above, I'm currently working (very slowly, with my overbooked employment and responsibility schedules) at reading through two books I pulled at random out of my BIG stuff-to-read pile: one by Christopher Hitchens, and the other by George Orwell.

    I don't know the man, and most assuredly I never will, but I boldly guess that he would find inexpiable fault with any of us for "wishing" him well, because "wishing" accomplishes n-o-t-h-i-n-g. And as for PRAYING for his recovery, well, ….. EGAD!

  6. “I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.”

  7. I am a Hitchens fan. I think he is one of the best thinkers on the planet today. That being said, he gets completely off the rails when he goes after God, who he doesn't believe in.

    Richard Dawkins has the same syndrome. His book, The God Illusion is mostly silly, but with a couple of absolutely fantastic, but almost mystical chapters, when he throws off his rather shabby philosopher's hat and peers through his biologist's lens.

    I hope Hitchens survives. He is a man, like me, and he adds much to The Great Conversation. I too will pray for his recovery.