Writer, journalist, book lover, renaissance man, Christopher Hitchens passed away yesterday at age 62, after a battle with esophageal cancer
Often controversial, Mr Hitchens never minced his words and would not self-censor for the sake of political correctness. Everybody, and every subject, was fair game, from Henry Kissinger to Mother Theresa. Even religion.
It would be impossible, given his body of work, to agree with everything the man wrote; for me, his apparent volte-face on Iraq following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US, after years of taking up the Palestinian cause alongside the likes of his friend Edward Said (whom he still does not spare in his memoir, Hitch-22), was one such occasion where we parted ways ideologically (not that he was alone, as another inspiration of mine, Michael Ignatieff, made a similar U-turn).
The occasional disagreement notwithstanding, Mr Hitchens served as a tremendous inspiration on my career as a journalist. The breadth of his knowledge (there isn’t a book he doesn’t seem to have read; his collection of essays, Arguably, makes that pretty clear) and the sheer musicality of his writing soared to such heights as I cannot ever hope to achieve, though both remain, fixed high above, as a reflection of what I aspire to. (Some critics of my writing style, which tends to favor long, complex sentences, should know that Mr Hitchens shares some of the blame. He is also partly to blame for the piles of books that occupy a lot of floor space at my house.)
Whether one liked or disliked him — and there are plenty in both camps — Mr Hitchens’ departure is a great loss to journalism, literature, and all of us who continually strive to make sense of this complex, mad world of ours.
I wish I could write something better to do the man justice, but this is all I can summon for the moment. Cheers, Mr Hitchens.