"America's foremost rhetorical pugilist." (John Giuffo, The Village Voice)
The death of Christopher Hitchens in December 2011 prematurely silenced a voice that was among the most admired of contemporary writers. For more than 40 years, Hitchens delivered to numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic essays that were astonishingly wide ranging and provocative. The judges for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay posthumously bestowed on Hitchens praised him for the way he wrote "with fervor about the books and writers he loved and with unbridled venom about ideas and political figures he loathed". He could write, the judges went on to say, with "undisguised brio, mining the resources of the language as if alert to every possibility of color and inflection." He was, as Benjamin Schwarz, his editor at The Atlantic magazine, recalled, "slashing and lively, biting and funny - and with a nuanced sensibility and a refined ear that he kept in tune with his encyclopedic knowledge and near photographic memory of English poetry". And as Michael Dirda, writing in The Times Literary Supplement, observed, Hitchens "was a flail and a scourge, but also a gift to readers everywhere".
The author of five previous volumes of selected writings, including the international best seller Arguably, Hitchens left at his death nearly 250,000 words of essays not yet published in book form. And Yet...assembles a selection that usefully adds to Hitchens' oeuvre. It ranges from the literary to the political and is, by turns, a banquet of entertaining and instructive delights, including essays on Orwell, Lermontov, Chesterton, Fleming, Naipaul, Rushdie, Pamuk, and Dickens, among others, as well as his laugh-out-loud self-mocking "makeover". The range and quality of Hitchens' essays transcend the particular occasions for which they were originally written.
©2015 Estate of Christopher Hitchens (P)2015 Simon & Schuster
"[Narrator Steve] West sounds as though he owns the text and wants us to understand and share its truths." (AudioFile)
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
Not long ago, I wrote a lengthy glowing review of ARGUABLY, probably my favorite collection of essays of all time, certainly by anyone in the past half century. What a brilliant mind.
In contrast, the essays in "and yet..." are the Hitchens essays and articles not chosen for "Arguably." For good reason. These are either not as sharp and witty or cover subjects that aren't as intriguing.
If you're a fan of Hitchens however, I recommend you get these. I enjoyed most of them immensely, despite my disagreement with his views on religion. After all, Christopher Hitchens, not at his sharpest or wittiest, is better than the best of the muckrakers still living.
By the way, I could hear the voice of Hitchens in Simon Prebble's narration in "Arguably." Mr. West, the narrator here, unfortunately has the spirit of a saccharine shadow.
Christopher Hitchens was the best English language essayist of the past 50 years. This book is a gem, a collection of his articles for various publications. Some, like his Self-Improvement or Christmas articles, are downright hilarious. Others, like his disapproval of Hilary Clinton in early 2008 or his defense of the dethroning of Saddam Hussein are thoughtful and insightful even years after their authorship. By the way, although his views of Hussein are very much in the minority, he comes from the perspective of the Kurds, whom he visited and observed Iraqi government sanctioned torture and oppression. They have greatly benefited from Hussein's death. Mr. Hitchens is at his best with literary criticism. His views of Nabokov, Orwell, Vidal, his friend Martin Amis, among others, are brilliant. This is as good as it gets and one hopes there is more out there.
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