Christopher Hitchens on stage in West Los Angeles.
In 1999, the Hitch got on stage at The Moth—a New York City venue dedicated to the art of storytelling—and gave an account of the time his Tamil driver accidentally killed a Sri Lankan, an act that saw Hitchens deified and led him to his reassurance that all tales about divine intervention are false.
George Dawes Green, the founder of The Moth, recalls the performance below in a tribute paid to Hitchens on Dec. 16, 2011, the day after Hitchens’ death. Click through to hear Hitchens’ story. —ARK
Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper’s, brought Christopher Hitchens to The Moth for the rather gorgeously titled show, “Mentor, Tormentor, Progenitor: An Evening of Stories On Creatures That Shaped Us.” I sat next to Christopher before the show began. He seemed deeply drunk. When at last he took the stage, he began ramblingly. He had chosen, at the last moment, to discard his original tale for another (almost always a fatal blunder). But before he arrived at the new story he wanted to tell us a bit about the one he’d dropped, and to recite some Auden, and to touch on the sexual proclivities of Oxford students, and to lament the slouching profiles cut by America and Britain on the world map. As the minutes slipped by we grew worried that he would never deliver on that story he had promised. Not that it really mattered. We were spellbound. A wandering Hitchens is better than anyone else focused, and if he’d never found his way to that story we’d still have thought ourselves profoundly lucky to be sitting there.