Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

Though I am not particularly religious, I can't say that atheism, as a "movement," means all that much to me; it is simply not my battle. However, as a lover of words, etymology, elegant syntax, the Oxford comma, philosophy, journalism, trenchant logic, audacity and the "writer mystique," I cannot help but wish to emulate the masses in memorializing, just briefly, Christopher Hitchens.

I'll spare you Hitchens' biographical details and quash any pretense that I "knew" the writer on some profound level. Best known, in later years, for his work in New Atheism, Hitchens was always a contrarian, but he was first and foremost trained as a literary scholar, and it was his work on Orwell and Huxley that first garnered my attention and deepest respect. Hitchens was rare. He traversed language as both artisan and conqueror, finessing it aesthetically, all the while brandishing it like a cold tire iron. Known, too, for his eminent memory and his ability to recite offhand passages from Shakespeare to Ecclesiastes, and much in between, Hitchens cut with diamond precision, even with a glass of scotch in hand.

As a writer, or one who should hope to someday deserve that title, I can only dream that, loved or hated - or some romantic amalgamation of the two - I can, if just once, move readers with such "mystic," linguistic alchemy.

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