I’m a big fan of Christopher Hitchens. So when I stumped up a hefty wodge of cash for his latest collection of columns I was pleased to find the dust cover showed the author standing in front of his book shelves. What a chance to peruse the reading matter of one of our great writers. The back cover shows his work desk so I tried to pick out the title of one of the hard backs on his desk, next to a laptop.
How odd. Try as I might I couldn’t read the title. Then it dawned on me. The writing is backwards. The bit I could make out spelled “life”. But each of the letters is reversed. I looked again. The bite from the Apple logo on the laptop is also the wrong way around, on the left hand side not the right. Fair enough, reversing the picture means it wraps around the cover nicely, with the man himself on the front and his desk on the back.
But then something else caught my eye. Look again. The title on the book beneath his coffee tray is clear and unreversed: “Vanity Fair Portraits”. And just to the left of his head some of the title on his shelves are legible: The Quran, Das Kapital and Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man. So too the label on the bottle of Evian on the back.
Anyway, I’m not sure you can see it on the scans above. I had to stare very hard at the original cover.
Hitchens’ shirt buttons are the right way round for a man too, so maybe it would be unfair to conclude the book titles have been photoshopped on to a reversed photo. But the idea of picking out a few titles to display prominently made me smile. It’s the sort of slightly sad thing that I’d do. And the book is a great read.