Ok, I suppose this headline is intentionally provocative (this is, after all, Provoking Hitchens). Now that we’ve established that, hear Hitchens describe the incident for Australian TV journalist Jennifer Byrne. They were discussing his just then released memoir, Hitch 22.
Hitch fans toast the man with glasses of Johnny Walker Black Label. It is well known that he had a large capacity to drink, and to still write brilliantly. Graydon Carter, the publisher of Vanity Fair, wrote in a tribute to Hitch, “I can recall a lunch in 1991, when I was editing The New York Observer, and he and Aimée Bell, his longtime editor, and I got together for a quick bite at a restaurant on Madison, no longer there. Christopher’s copy was due early that afternoon. Pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his intake. After stumbling back to the office, we set him up at a rickety table and with an old Olivetti, and in a symphony of clacking he produced a 1,000-word column of near perfection in under half an hour.”
If you want to read Hitchens’ own words about the consumption of alcohol, see these passages from Hitch 22:
Hitchens and Rushdie shared a sense of humor, as Rushdie explains in this NYT interview. In Hitch-22, Christopher told about a game they played, [Book] Titles That Don’t Quite Make It, which is how the Hitch-22 title originated. Rushdie explains in this 2012 piece for Vanity Fair:
Hitch-22 was a title born of the silly word games we played, one of which was Titles That Don’t Quite Make It, among which were A Farewell to Weapons, For Whom the Bell Rings, To Kill a Hummingbird, The Catcher in the Wheat, Mr. Zhivago, and Toby-Dick, a.k.a. Moby-Cock. And, as the not-quite version of Joseph Heller’s comic masterpiece, Hitch-22. Christopher rescued this last title from the slush pile of our catechism of failures and redeemed it by giving it to the text which now stands as his best memorial.