Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Reading Hitch-22

While I was in Washington D.C. last week I picked up Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens’ memoirs. I’m only about 20% of the way through it at this point but it’s really compelling to read.The first thing I noticed was a blurb on the back cover from Gore Vidal that said:

“I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delfino. I have decided to name Christopher Hitchens.”

And the blurb is crossed out in red ink, with “No, CH” written next to it. That made me laugh out loud, picturing the publisher sending the proof of the cover to Hitchens and him crossing out that blurb — then deciding to leave it in that way to make a point. I also found the juxtaposition with another blurb interesting. Christopher Buckley wrote:

Christopher Hitchens is the greatest living essayist in the English language.

And as a lover of the essay form I have to agree (that doesn’t mean everything he writes is true, of course; one can be a great writer and be wrong about nearly everything). But that is a designation I think he took over from Vidal, who held the title for many decades. It’s really sad what has happened to Vidal, who has become little more than a cranky old man with a gigantic ego.