Brooks on Hitchens

Sorry to bring up David Brooks twice in one week, but today he ran nice appreciation of Christopher Hitchens, “Such, Such Are His Joys.” As most you know probably know by now, on Wednesday Hitchens announced that he was canceling his book tour and beginning chemotherapy for cancer of the esophagous.

On balance the column presents a nice appreciation for Hitchens. Brooks’ main point, and one well-taken is that:

Most of all, his is a memoir that should be given to high school and college students of a literary bent. In the age of the Internet and the academy, it will open up different models for how to be a thoughtful person, how to engage in political life and what sort of things one should know in order to be truly educated.

There are few suspect assertions in Brooks’ column, for instance that Hitchens is somehow above allowing the personal to become the political — Hitchens vilifies that slippage between the two, but even he can’t escape the imbrication of the personal and the political. They’ve never been distinct anyway.

I’m also not quite sure what Brooks means when he writes, “Hitchens came of age in the 1960s. But as his memoir and subsequent career make plain, he is not really a child of the Woodstock generation but of the generation whose work was rejected by it.” This seems merely a  typical Brooksism.

Let’s all hope for a speedy recovery for this singular scourge.


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