For a brief moment, our dear prairie dog editor Stephen Whitworth was throwing around the idea of an August Reading issue, where I’m presuming we could’ve talked about all the books we’ve been loving all summer long. I came up with what I thought was a stellar pitch: using a medium to talk with Christopher Hitchens from beyond the grave.
See, I’ve been enjoying his memoirs, Hitch-22, immensely, but he also has a new book that just came out this week. Mortality is a collection of pieces he wrote for Vanity Fair as he was battling the cancer that eventually took his life. What better way to look into the book, in my mind, then to have someone contact one of the loudest and most adamant voices of the New Atheists in the afterlife?
All things considered, maybe it’s for the best that the August Reading issue never came to pass with ideas like that. But for the issue hitting stands tomorrow, I did get to write about another book, specifically How to Be a Person, a book from the staff of the Stranger full of no-bullshit and funny information on a lot of what a young person might encounter in life.
While reading a bit more of Hitch-22 last night, I came across a passage where Hitchens outlines his rules for drinking. (With the caveat from Martin Amis that “making rules about drinking can be the sign of an alcoholic.”) Drinking is definitely covered in How to Be a Person — they even prohibit some of the drinking habits of our own Whitworth — but, for the sake of contrast, here’s roughly half of Hitchens’ general edicts:
Don’t drink on an empty stomach: the main point of the refreshment is the enhancement of food. Don’t drink if you have the blues: it’s a junk cure. Drink when you are in a good mood. Cheap booze is a false economy. It’s not true that you shouldn’t drink alone: these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain. Hangovers are another bad sign, and you should not expect to be believed if you take refuge in saying you can’t properly remember last night. (If you really don’t remember, that’s an even worse sign.)
And on from there. How to Be a Person and Hitch-22 are both worthy additions to your bookshelves; I’m guessing Mortality isn’t too bad, either.