I'll be only the billionth person to note the passing of Christopher Hitchens. I have mixed feelings about his work: I found his writing right after 9/11 to be brilliant, but also found some of his later political writing blustery and straining to convince.
On the other hand, he was an awesomely productive writer, something that as a fellow craftsman I have to admire.
Of the various remembrances that have come out, I think Christopher Buckley's is my favorite.
One of our lunches, at Café Milano, the Rick’s Café of Washington, began at 1 P.M., and ended at 11:30 P.M. At about nine o’clock (though my memory is somewhat hazy), he said, “Should we order more food?” I somehow crawled home, where I remained under medical supervision for several weeks, packed in ice with a morphine drip. Christopher probably went home that night and wrote a biography of Orwell. His stamina was as epic as his erudition and wit.
This piece by Ian McEwan is also pretty remarkable for its description of Hitchens in the hospital in his last days:
this was how it would go: talk about books and politics, then he dozed while I read or wrote, then more talk, then we both read. The intensive care unit room was crammed with flickering machines and sustaining tubes, but they seemed almost decorative. Books, journalism, the ideas behind both, conquered the sterile space, or warmed it, they raised it to the condition of a good university library….
The next morning, at Christopher's request, Alexander and I set up a desk for him under a window. We helped him and his pole with its feed-lines across the room, arranged pillows on his chair, adjusted the height of his laptop. Talking and dozing were all very well, but Christopher had only a few days to produce 3,000 words on Ian Ker's biography of Chesterton. Whenever people talk of Christopher's journalism, I will always think of this moment.