If heroes were my thing, the late Christopher Hitchens would be one of them. He was such a contradiction. On the one hand, Hitchens was a lucid intellectual and seemingly well-read in every subject known to man; he was a vicious debater while also being kind at heart; he could communicate with envious clarity, but turned off many who disagreed with him. Hitchens also had the appearance of a Dickensian villain: he was a heavy smoker and enjoyer of alcohol, and he often wore a dirty trenchcoat on his back.
When asked to name a single economist who backed Brexit, political fumbler and Eurosceptic, Michael Gove, answered, “people in this country have had enough of experts”. And oddly enough, he was right.
I can merrily pour out a stream of consciousness on the page for hours, but at some point, this stuff has to start to make sense and fit within a larger narrative. And pulling together all the loose ends of a first draft is like connecting up boiled spaghetti into a single pasta thread.
In 1935, Mayer, an American journalist of German and Jewish descent, travelled to Germany in an attempt to secure an interview with Hitler. He failed in this task, but what he saw in Germany terrified him enough to know that Hitler wasn’t the person he needed to speak to. Instead, he interviewed ten everyday Germans — a tailor, a cabinet maker, a salesman, a student, a baker, a bill-collector, a teacher, a policeman, and a bank clerk — to decipher how it was that the Nazi movement had swept the country.
I’m not entirely sure how the conversation started. I imagine the same situation might occur if you found yourself in a minor car accident and were forced through circumstance into comparing notes with an eyewitness. We were both so stunned to be so close to this strange vehicle that instinctively we both locked eyes and had to converse just to break the awkward tension. It quickly became clear, however, that his English vocabulary was limited, and that he thought this was a real car, the pinnacle of British vehicular engineering. I know the DeLorean was actually manufactured, but he thought this was some sort of experimental prototype being tested for road worthiness.