I don’t always agree with Hitchens’ views. In fact, I don’t think I even often agree with them. Despite a brief flirtation with the New Atheists a few years ago, I’m unwilling to consider myself more than a spiritual agnostic. I disagree with his embrace of war and military intervenionism. And yet. And yet.
Hitchens was one of the best goddamned writers of . . . possibly ever. Even when I completely disagree with his thesis, he’s delightfully readable. And I don’t disagree on everything. His more wry observations of life and culture and literature are a true delight and one comes away from a good Hitchens essay with the feeling of shared a drink with a brilliant and eloquent intellectual.
Of this final collection of essays, book reviews, and other short pieces, I will say this; I’m going to miss that voice. His thoughts on quitting smoking, getting healthy, and doing the physical makeover are bittersweet and poignant, the words given an unintended emotional gravitas when you consider how closely they were written before his own death.
This is more of a ‘completionist’ work of Hitchens writing than a ode to ‘the best of the best.’ Book reviews from books that are ten or more years old tend to feel dated, even for books that are remarkable. There isn’t really a true standout piece here and if you were new to Hitchens, this isn’t where I’d start. Despite that, there also isn’t anything that falls flat and nothing that isn’t interesting. It was nice to spend a little more time with a voice that I have missed and will miss. Overall, a very solid collection.