Literary Houston

Christopher Hitchens died last December at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

I re-read his Letters to a Young Contrarian on the flight down here. The next day I took the light rail train from our hotel in to town. It passed by the Center. Just seeing the place for those fleeting seconds was a very moving, emotional experience.

The relationships we establish with writers can be pretty intense. Visiting places described in their works where births, childhoods, marriages and deaths – real or imagined – take place, helps us to ‘connect’ with our literary heroes. It’s hardly rational, but I know from experience that it can be very powerful.

Christopher Hitchens’s writing and debating touched and influenced many. It stimulated a lot of important public discussion. Though his ties with Houston may be limited – all he did here was die – he will always be associated with the place.

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So will Donald Barthelme. He’s probably the best

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