Magazine February 6, 2012, Issue

Mr. Hitchens and I

(Zuma/Newscom)

Christopher Hitchens and I were not friends or even acquaintances. We never met or spoke on the phone, just exchanged occasional brief letters — notes really — hand-written and snail-mailed at first, e-mailed later. I suppose the most colloquial name for our relationship is “pen pals,” but that is much too hearty and well-adjusted for either of the difficult personalities involved: It reeks of reaching out. My description of what we shared comes from the imagery that Longfellow called “ships that pass in the night.”

Our first pass occurred in the ’80s when we were both weekday book reviewers on Newsday.

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