In Hitch-22, just published, the man of letters, foreign correspondent and all-around bon vivant Christopher Hitchens recounts a life lived well. Very well. Better than you've lived, anyway. Now, we at The L Magazine are pleased to reveal this deleted chapter, obtained through channels we have resolved not to disclose, out of concern for the safety of the operatives involved.
Most of my lasting friendships have been with brilliant men, the justly famous and the unjustly neglected. (In the latter group I would have to include my friend Jim, author of the most brilliant pastoral elegy since Milton's Lycidas, though few in the English-speaking world have heard his name, and even fewer in the non-English-speaking world; perhaps because he's never been published, and actually never written anything for that matter.)
As is obviously well known, in my youth, my best Martin Amis and I were feared all across England for our venom-tipped pens! When we were together, though, we mostly talked of women and sex; I had a particular interest in sex, one that I am sure is shared by many brilliant young men. Perhaps the simple-minded enjoy sex as well, but of this I cannot be certain.
At some point during my long and illustrious career, I began frequenting Friday night dinners that were attended by, among others, Marty and our friend Clive James. Now these rendezvous have, I am to understand, become quite legendary; they are spoken about in the same way people once spoke of the Bloomsbury group, or perhaps they're not spoken about at all, I'm not sure, I've never been good at listening, especially to other people. Frequently at these Friday night tête-à-tête's, we would drink and speak of literature, most which we of found distasteful, of course, lacking in that fleet-footed grace which is the mark of a truly discerning intelligence. I remember one evening Jamie savagely beat me about the head for expressing my admiration of Sartre. As I was being rushed to the hospital, I realized he was right, and I have since then burned my copy Being and Nothingness, along with the possessions of a particularly querulous ex-girlfriend—an ex-girlfriend who, I might add, was quite wishy-washy regarding the Soviet war in Afghanistan!
As I was recovering from my head wound, I chanced upon meeting Margaret Thatcher at a dinner party. I got the distinct feeling that she knew who I was, a feeling I was well accustomed to, especially when meeting women—though few women have admitted to such, even under dire inquisition. Thatcher and I got into a terrible argument about politics, or maybe it was over the last morsel on a particularly delicious plate of hors d'oeuvres, I can't quite recall. I left the party with an unfortunately rumbling stomach, thinking if only Thatcher hadn't snatched that last meatball... But I also left with a creeping sense that perhaps Thatcher, grabby though she was, had a point on a few issues. It was inevitable, from that moment on, that I would swing to the right.