too much hitch


With no narrative through-line of political or literary development, Hitch 22 relies on the assumption that its readers will want to follow its author’s arbitrary recollections of family, friends, opinions and travels. He gives over whole chapters to [James] “Fenton,” “Salman” [Rushdie], and “Martin” [Amis]. But the more he writes about them, the less he seems to reveal. Fenton, he declares, was a marvellous poet who liked long walks and “the ancient buildings and antique trees and botany of Oxford.” Did that sentence really fall from the pen of Christopher Hitchens? The friend on whom he lavishes the purplest ink is Martin Amis, and there are mortifying hints that he has used Amis’s own masterpiece of memoir, Experience, as a model. Hence, perhaps, the leaps in theme and chronology, the lurches between private and public worlds, and the grizzly fumbling for comic self-exposure. Mutual masturbation at public school, or homosexual encounters at university—with future cabinet ministers in a Thatcher government—are referred to at once coyly (he withholds significant names) and tastelessly. He and his Oxford contemporary Bill Clinton, he reveals, were at different times involved “with a pair of Leckford girls who, principally Sapphic in their interests, would arrange for sessions of group frolic.”

more from Alexander Linklater at Prospect Magazine here.