Christopher Hitchens — the acerbic, iconoclastic political gadfly, journalist, literary critic, and hugely talented prose stylist — has died at the age of 62. He had esophageal cancer. I disagreed fiercely with his political views after his rightward shift beginning in the 1990s, but have nothing but respect and admiration for the brilliant beauty of his writing, the force of his personality, and most especially in this context, for the courage and grace with which he chose to live his life after his cancer diagnosis a year and a half before he died. Up until the very end, he never stopped writing his exquisitely constructed essays for Vanity Fair and Slate, on all his usual subjects. He wrote about the disease that was killing him, as well — and one of the things I most admire him for is his consistency and total lack of hypocrisy in continuing to affirm his atheism even in the face of his own impending death. To me, that is the ultimate integrity, regardless of how wrong he may have been (in my view) on almost every other matter of substance that concerned him.
There’s already reams of appreciations, remembrances, and commentaries out there on the news of Hitchens’ death. Rather than wait to go through it all to pick out the best or most interesting of these, I will simply permalink to Memeorandum, where you can decide for yourselves what’s most worth reading.