Promoting his new book,Hitch-22: A Memoir, last weekend Christopher Hitchens provided frequently witty replies to frequently dimwitted questions from the New York Times’s Deborah Solomon. Here are a few provocative highlights:
What did you mean to suggest by including the detail about your long-ago flings with two men who became part of Margaret Thatcher’s administration?
There are still people who want to criminalize homosexuality one way or another, and I thought it might be useful if more heterosexual men admitted that they are a little bit gay, as is everyone, and that homosexuality is a form of love and not just sex.
Not everyone is “a little bit gay,” as you say. Do you think your basic sexual confusion underlies your political confusions?
No, I wouldn’t call it confusion. I’d call it a punctuated consistency. I argue in the book that my principles were the same throughout.You’re a Washington-based polemicist who has written in support of the Iraq war but who was previously a self-described socialist with a column in The Nation. Why do you see yourself as consistent?
I still think like a Marxist in many ways. I think the materialist conception of history is valid. I consider myself a very conservative Marxist.
Did you write the book for money?
Of course, I do everything for money. Dr. Johnson is correct when he says that only a fool writes for anything but money. It would be useful to keep a diary, but I don’t like writing unpaid. I don’t like writing checks without getting paid.
I trust you answer the e-mail of your friends at no charge.
I haven’t got to the point yet where phone calls and e-mails are billable, but I am working on it. That would be happiness defined for me. What I’m hoping is to get a 900 number, so I can tell all my friends, “Call me back on my 900 number: 1-900-HITCH22.” I can talk for a long time.
But who would want to listen?
That would be the 900-number test.
I am such a fool.