Tributes to Christopher Hitchens have not been in short supply since his death. One does not (of course) have to feel that he was right about everything or even an especially nice person to feel the loss. Being keen on books isn’t thought of as a very glamorous habit, normally—whence the term “bookish”—and I suppose now that what I found so inspiring about Hitchens is how effortlessly vital he made books and reading and the life of the mind seem. He had a TV-ready charisma, but literature was what it served. Reading his work one never felt that there was something unbecoming or illegitimate about a life given over to words. In that, if in nothing else, he was an example and an illumination for the rest of us. As Joe Klein wrote: “We need more such, and are left with less.”


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