Christopher, Unhitched

COLM TOIBIN in the New York Times:

Hitchens184Like all polemicists, Hitchens is happiest when he has an enemy and least happy when he is most content. Thus the weakest piece in this book is his account of a journey along Route 66, which he seemed to enjoy, despite wearing pink socks. He does rather better in his trip along Sunset Boulevard. ”If you can fake it here,” he writes, ”you can fake it anywhere.” His tastes and his attitudes are complex: he clearly loves American movies and music; he can enjoy the dizzy hilarity of things, being a connoisseur of irony and duplicity; he can also be immensely fair-minded and calmly intelligent; and, on his pet subjects, he can be mean.

He is mean, once more, to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He is mean, using clear argument and reason, to Michael Moore. (” ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity.”) He is mean to Presidents Kennedy and Clinton. He is mean to Martha Stewart. He is mean to Mayor Bloomberg and, much to his own amusement, sets about flouting all those strange little laws that govern public behavior in New York, a city he loves.

When he is not being mean and when he is not happy, he can write as well as George Orwell.”

More here.