Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Hitchens Travelogue: god is not Great

I am about half way through Christopher Hitchens' god is not Great, and I can admit that, at this point, it is well written; much better written than some of his lesser (h/t to Caroline), um, accomplishments. The most distracting, and annoying part about his narrative is his insistence on telling the reader about how many places he has visited. Great! You're a jet-setter! Hell, you might even get yourself waterboarded at about the same time you have decided to change your mind about the Iraq war! It's a lot of work to recreate yourself from something like a Marxist, to G.W.Bush and war on terror advocate, to 'shoot-from-the-hip' atheist. If you want to know what the latest thing is, Hitchens is there, about 3 months to 5 years too late. To think, this guy once wrote the sharp and polemic The Trial of Henry Kissinger.

So, by the time god is not Great gets to the interesting anecdote about "representing the devil, as it were, pro bono" (the office of the Devil's Advocate having been recently abolished) in the process of the beatification of Mother Theresa (p. 145), he's already visited, in the narrative, Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem, Baghdad, Bosnia, Calcutta, Damascus, Tehran, Doha, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Vatican (and I may have forgotten some). Hitchens, we know that you're a journalist; you don't have to tell us that you have traveled.

Update: He has also managed to mention trips to Hebron, Uganda and Afghanistan in subsequent chapters.

Update #2 (September 24, 2009): Add a mention of North Korea. His 'new' Afterword (taken from a piece in Vanity Fair) is an account of his book tour. So that adds Little Rock, New York City, Austin, Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, Coral Gables, FL, Los Angeles, Seattle and Canada. And just when you thought it couldn't continue, in his Acknowledgments he references a trip with Ian McEwan to "that remote Uruguayan coast where Darwin so boldly put ashore and took samples."

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