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I confess to have completely misread the blurb for this title. I thought it was Hitchens interviewing Rushdie. In fact, it is the opposite. However, that doesn't matter. The discussion on the eve of the release of Hitchens' third to last book, the autobiographical, Hitch 22, is stimulating, interesting and very entertaining. The source of the name alone is worth the listen.
Rushdie is, of course, a literary giant. Hitchens was one of the most read, and a very well read, commentator. Their long time friendship is apparent on listening and their literary games are in a class apart.
You won't regret the hour or so of your life you spend with these two.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Christopher Hitchens and/or Salman Rushdie?
I have read most of Hitchens books, and enjoyed the lot. I have heard Hitchens speak, he is engaging to say the least. Brilliant and funny, a rare mix. Here, unfortunately, the arrogant and condescending Rushdie pipes in with awkward and not funny comments, interrupting Hitchens.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Hitchens would have been engaging just as a monologue here, Rushdie adds nothing.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Hitchens and Rushdie could have discussed Islam, censorship etc. As it was, it was a poorly cobbled together advert for Hitchens book.
Any additional comments?
I'm a great fan of these two men but was very disappointed with this product. After a soporific, sycophantic 10-minute introduction we are subjected to a hotch-potch of brief, disjointed comments and anecdotes about all manner of subjects. Rushdie effectively interviews Hitchens - not the way around I would have wanted - and the dialogue is littered with name-dropping, references to in-jokes from the two men's past which I could not participate in, and much patting of each other's backs about past achievements without really explaining what they were. There are continual references to Hitchens’ published memoirs (“available in all fine bookshops”) which reduce this interview to nothing more than a long, unashamed advertisement.
The audience is often silent while Hitchens recounts some bizarre anecdote such as his trip to a brothel; they sometimes emit awkward titters such as when Hitchens and Rushdie play a word game on the word "dick" which they invented in their youth which I'm sure was hilarious when they were in a bar somewhere 30 years ago but which jars very badly in this arena; and they sometimes sound bemused such as when Hitchens levers in a limerick about a bishop "pumping sperm" into a kneeling choirboy, where he somehow manages to convey the repugnancy but without generating any of the humour that dirty jokes can produce if delivered the right way in the right context. At one point even Hitchens himself remarks on how the audience sounds "muted".
There are occasional glimpses of the kind of discourse this could have been when Hitchens takes a few questions from the audience, such as when he and Rushdie refer to the anthropological argument for the existence of God, but these are brief and nothing beyond what you would have discussed as a schoolchild in Religious Studies. The whole painful experience is summarised by Rushdie's final question, when he hijacks a question from the audience and turns it into: Which historical figure would Hitchens most like to have had sex with?
If you want toilet humour there are plenty of good comedians on Audible.com who know how to turn crudity into great laughs, or you could play a Tenacious D album and at least hear some good music at the same time. If you like word games carried along by an undercurrent of innuendo listen to the inimitable "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue". If you want to see Hitchens at his sublime, iconoclastic best then watch him debating on YouTube for free. But please don't waste your money on this Audible product.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is a perfect companion to Hitch 22, although I can't imagine why they don't just give it out for free, as there are a lot of more interesting Hitchens debates and conversations downloadable for free on Itunes, and this isn't the best I've heard. Still, it's always interesting to listen to such a great talker, whether he explores political themes or just intellectual games, as he does here with Mr Rushdie. A pleasant listen all in all, but perhaps not 'essential'.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful