Pretending to write ‘Vile Bodies’

Christopher Hitchens

  • Lost Property: Memoirs and Confessions of a Bad Boy by Ben Sonnenberg
    Faber, 217 pp, £14.99, November 1991, ISBN 0 571 16545 1

On the lovely covers of the old Grand Street – a name derived from poor Jewish immigrant New York but still somehow redolent of capacity and generosity – there was the logo of a mettlesome goat. As I grew to know Ben Sonnenberg, so I grew to appreciate this animal. Impatient and randy as it is well-known to be, the goat is above all an omnivore. I have never inquired of Ben what his ambition might be, because I’m tolerably sure that he would reply, ‘To have tried everything once,’ and then make one of his Oscar Wilde gestures. But to be familiar with him, and with his library and his circle and his anecdotes, was to see how apt was Murray Kempton’s description of Grand Street as a magazine arranged like a dinner party – a dinner party, moreover, that has itself been arranged purely to gratify the host.

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