Hitchen’s latest in Vanity Fair:
(My looks by then had in any case declined to the point where only women would go to bed with me.)
As a certain someone once explained:
“Anyone who thinks male homosexuality is not only geneticly determined but completely incurable has never worked at the New Statesman...”
I hear the selective lobotomy is still in the animal-testing stage, so, terrified at what else I might find out, I merely skimmed the rest of this excerpt from Hitchen’s new memoir — I’m already familiar with his “Marget Thatcher smacked my bottom” anecdote, thanks — so this was the only other bit I read with any attention:
Martin [Amis] never let friendship take precedence over his first love, which was and is the English language. If one employed a lazy or stale phrase, it would be rubbed in—no, it would be incisively emphasized—with a curl of that mighty lip and an ironic gesture.
If one committed the offense in print—I remember once writing “no mean achievement” in an article—the rebuke might come in note form, or by one’s being handed a copy of the article with a penciled underlining. He could take this vigilance to almost parodic lengths.
The words “ruggedly handsome features” appear on the first page of 1984, and for a while Martin declined to go any further into the book. (“The man can’t write worth a damn.”) He was later to admit that the novel did improve a trifle after that.
Years later—in 2001, when I gave him the manuscript of my book on Orwell, he brought it to our next rendezvous, at a Manhattan bistro, Café Un Deux Trois, on West 44th Street, and wordlessly handed it back. He had gone through it page by page, painstakingly correcting my pepper-shaker punctuation.
If you’ve ever thought it would be fun to be a writer and have lots and lots of writer friends etc etc, please note the paragraphs, above. (UPDATE: Oh, and this…)
(And be prepared to be overcome by disgust and/or nervous exhaustion if you read more of Hitchen’s memoir, especially if you aren’t in the “business.” I barely am, and I had to go have a little lie down after the teeny parts I “accidentally” glanced at.)
Most writers are extremely unpleasant individuals. Some are just better at hiding it. Words come first; people and their feelings are a very distant second. This does, alas, indeed mean you. Sorry.