On Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens was always one of my Dad's favorites. I recall one year for Christmas I got Dad a subscription to The Nation, which he enjoyed, of course, though he and I both suffered from a dreadful sense of "reading material overload" as the magazines would pile up on our respective bedside night-stands, folded open and dog-eared to this or that must-read expose.

"Too much good stuff but not enough time to read it all," Dad would say. I concurred, and in fact we both agreed it might be better to cancel our subscriptions altogether, rather than face the constant pressure of catching up on half-a-dozen 10,000 word essays about the lack drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa or the plight of the endangered Himalayan snow leopard.

"But what about Hitchens?" Dad would ask. "We need Hitchens."

And so for a long time we kept receiving The Nation, for the primary purpose of reading Hitchens' caustic, literary, semi-monthly take down of some sacred cow or another (his notorious, remorseless evisceration of Mother Teresa foremost among them).

When Hitchens, for some strange reason no one will ever fully understand, threw his formidable talents behind a staunch defense of George W. Bush's folly in Iraq, he was summarily bounced from The Nation, verily excommunicated from the liberal intelligentsia, and Dad and I -- though we certainly did not agree with Hitchens' transformation into a defender of American fascism -- had our built-in excuse for letting our subscriptions lapse.

No more Hitchens? No more Nation. I haven't really read the magazine since.

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