Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Book Review: Arguably
This massive volume is nice peppering of works by the late master of words and professional malcontent, Christopher Hitchens. From current affairs to religion to history and biography, and even a meditation of the phrase ‘fuck off,’ there are few subjects that escape his pen. There isn’t much I can say about Hitchens that hasn’t been said before, and by far more eloquent people than myself. Suffice to say, this book contains his trademark humor and barbs.
Some of the highlights include an essay on why women aren’t funny (though he believed they had a profound sense of humor) and conversely why men are and in fact, must be; another that puts into words my feelings about religiously enforced face covering; and a great one about his love of books that rounds out the volume.
Along the way, Hitchens traveled the world, met some fascinating people from politicians to cab drivers, experienced war zones and art, and confronted bullshit artists of all stripes. Never willing to let anyone off the hook, least of all himself, he constantly tries to get at the heart of matters, cutting through emotions and rhetoric.
I’m always impressed by folks like Hitchens, who are so well read about so many subjects, and can discuss them lucidly. Willing to use his extensive vocabulary, not dumb things down, yet perfectly comfortable with a cracking good expletive. He appealed to the best in us, expecting others to keep up, and leaving it up to us to do so.
Like the best of non-fiction, Arguably made me want to read more, to learn more, and shed light on subjects I didn’t know anything about, while giving me a new perspective on some I did. His reviews of biographies and histories, his explorations of political ideologies, and his look around at America are all inspiring and challenging in the best ways.
I listened to the audio book version, read by Simon Prebble, who manages to do a fair job of capturing Hitchens’ cadence. 29 hours. Wow. But it was good listening while prepping and eating many a breakfast.
The man is missed, but his words remain.
Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-1-61113-906-8 (audio version), 978-1-45550-277-6 (hard cover)