The art of essay writing
January 11, 2013
“The New York Times” started a book review section in 1896, and it has since grown to be a well-known weekly supplement. Every year, around December, the list of 100 Notable Books of the Year is published. From this list, ten are selected as the Best Books of the Year - 5 for fiction and 5 for non-fiction. I was checking the list for 2011 and came across a book by Christopher Hitchens. I knew that he died from cancer in 2011, but discovered that just before his death he managed to write a book called Mortality, an exploration of his final days. I also found out that in 2011 he published a collection of essays called Arguably.
Hitchens was an intellectual, prolific author, journalist and literary critic. He worked for “Vanity Fair” and “The Nation” and his books such as Hitch-22 and “God is not Great” made him famous. His views on politics were controversial; he held his views with absolute conviction and was often misunderstood by his old supporters. He named among his friends Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan; his heroes were George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson. He is known for his critiques of Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger.
“Arguably” is a book of 780 pages with 107 essays. They are political discussions, literary reviews, and thoughts on God, war and history. He discusses the Steig Larsson phenomenon, Benazir Bhutto and Dostoyevsky. Hitchens’s opinions, his style, and his erudition make this collection a unique reading experience. For anyone who takes time to read this formidable collection the rewards are great. Hitchens left us a legacy to challenge ourselves, expand our views, and sometimes to confront us. He was one of the greatest essayists of our time and introduced his readers to a variety of ideas that define our modern history.