Top positive review
117 people found this helpful
Highly enjoyable. Very sharp, and very funny.
on May 6, 2011
The first thing to understand about this book is that it's not really conducive to long periods of reading. As every fan knows, brevity is not Hitch's strong suit - in fact, a large part of the joy one gets from reading his works comes from his thorough explanations and fascinating side-notes. After becoming familiar with his writing style, it's almost unnerving to try and read this book for long periods of time. It starts to feel terse and manic. It's not because the quotes aren't worthwhile; each one is a classic gem, worthy of its reprinting here. But before long, the overload of short, brilliant quotes feels disjointed. It perfectly captures Mr. Hitchens' wit, but by implication can't include his level of depth or substance.
With that in mind, this book works perfectly in short bursts. And its alphabetical indexing perfectly divides it into 26 neat sections. I recommend reading one section a day. It feels like just the right amount. And of course, this makes an incredibly useful desk reference. If you ever need a sharp, intellectual quote to open a research paper or argument, this will become your favorite source. I've already used it twice in this way. It's easy to start on a high note when you can quickly find a quote on almost any topic you can think of, from one of the sharpest writers of the modern era.
One of the things that surprised me about this book is the extremely broad use of his quotes, in regards to both subject matter and time. The sections on "god", "Iraq War", and "Smoking" are shorter than you may expect, and there are dozens of topics you wouldn't expect, like "Patterns", "Euphemisms", and "Tennis". And the quotes themselves are evenly spread over his entire career. I expected it to rely primarily on his more widely known post-9/11 works, but this is not the case. Quite a bit of the material comes from interviews and columns from several decades ago. This is a great thing for devoted fans, as so much of it feels completely new. I own all of Hitch's books, and I was happily surprised to see so many quotes I'd never seen before.
Martin Amis' charming foreword alone is worth the price of the book, and at less than $10, you can't go wrong. It makes a great reference by itself, and if you're even mildly interested in Christopher Hitchens, you'll be happy to have this!