Hitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens

Hitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher HitchensSummary: Frustrating, fascinating and ultimately unfinished.

Christopher Hitchens is one of those people that I feel like I need to read.  I have not really read anything by him prior to this other than the short article.  And now that he has passed away, it is his books that are left.

I started with the memoir, both because it was available on audiobook at my library and because I thought it was be a good place to find out who Christopher Hitchens really was.

I am not sure this is a book that should be listened to.  Most of the time I really like authors to read their own works because they know them intimately and often are good audio interpreters.  But Hitchens only occasionally comes to life here.  Most of time time (especially at the beginning) he mumbles, has very little intonation or emotion and makes the book almost impossible to listen to.

At other points he really comes alive and the listener knows what the book could have been.  But that seems to be the problem with the book as a whole.  There are large fascinating passages where Hitchens really investigates a subject deeply and brings it to life.  But most of the book (at least as far as I got), seems more interested with name dropping and minutia instead of actually telling the reader the story of his life.

Maybe it is just that I am not all that familiar 1960s and 70s British culture and movements, and even less familiar with the intellectual personalities behind those movements.  If you are familiar you probably would enjoy the book more.

I really do think I would like the book more as it goes on because it moves to an era that I remember and he moves to a country that I live in.

But after a couple weeks of listening to the book, I only finished about 35 or 40% of the book and it has to go back to the library.

The book does make me want to pick up something else by Christopher Hitchens. But I think I will pick it up in print instead of audio.

Hitch-22: A Memoir Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

One Comment

Unless you can get it with a different narrator.

In principle, I would have agreed with you that the writer would know a book intimately and thereby be the best reader. In my experience, however, that simply does not happen! And I think that is because writing is one kind of artistic endeavor and narration a whole ‘nother kind.

This sounds a little like Yogi Berra’s “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

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