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Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Mortality (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Christopher Hitchens

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5633417,579 (4.13)58
Authors:Christopher Hitchens
Info:Twelve (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 128 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Mempoir, Cancer, Essays

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Mortality by Christopher Hitchens (Author) (2012)


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It is difficult not to be moved by the words of a dying man, but it's even harder when those words come from a man who is so eloquent in his writing. These are the final writings of the late Christopher Hitchens and they hold very little back when describing exactly what it is to go through the attempt at fighting the cancer killing you from the inside. The words bring home the feeling of what it really means to face your own mortality, and I'm not sure anyone else could have put the open face on it the way only Christopher Hitchens did. While not always as uplifting and positive in the way Randy Pausch’s 'The Last Lecture' was, it is extremely honest.

This should be a must read for anyone who cares about the human condition while facing our mortality. It is a short read and does not require a large amount of time to complete. Included at the end are notes and snippets left behind that had not yet been turned into full writings and a final chapter from Chrostopher Hitchens wife. As she admits, in the end, Christopher Hitchens always had the last word, and does so again with this book. ( )
  speljamr | Apr 2, 2014 |
Brilliant, but best appreciated by someone who's been treated for cancer ( )
  Faradaydon | Dec 5, 2013 |
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens is a wonderful contemporary memento mori. While many of Hitchens's books are polemic, Mortality breathes the spirit of humanism, as it forms a quiet reflection on the authors' last months of life, in which contemplation of religion finds its place alongside literature.

The final chapters of unedited notes,give an insight in the process of writing, as they sharply contrast with the eloquence of the composition of the previous chapters.

Mortality is a dignified coda to a life of writing. ( )
2 vote edwinbcn | Dec 1, 2013 |
In a scene from my all time favourite film, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Woody starts to recount those things that make life worth living. I have played this game with friends many times over the years. My list of things that make life worth living is; (family and friends are a given), Woody Allen of course, the film Manhattan, Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway, Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John on the Cross’, Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’, Morecambe and Wise, Peacock Butterflies, David Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Splash’, Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’, The Edinburgh Book Festival, David Sylvian, Philip Glass etc. Over the years there have been a few additions. Christopher Hitchens became one of those additions.
I have been putting off the reading of Mortality for sometime knowing full well the subject matter contained within its pages; not only the last words of a superlative orator and writer but details of his horrendous illness, oesophageal cancer. My cowardice probably also stems from the knowledge that I am less than ten years away from the age that Christopher Hitchens died, 62.
As to be expected the writing is not self-piteous, there is no element of self-aggrandizement in any of its 106 pages. Mr Hitchens style of writing makes one want to go around pulping every pencil, drain every pen and smash ones keyboard knowing that you will probably never write as well as he did. However, I am sure Christopher Hitchens would want you to buy new pencils, refill those pens and repair that keyboard and attempt to equal or better his writing.
In ‘Mortality’, as to be expected, religion rears its ugly head in the form of monotheists letting Mr Hitchens know that he deserves to die, that God has struck him down in vengeance. Christopher Hitchens in his usual pithy and direct manner surmised that God was rather mundane and routine in his vengeance to give him oesophageal cancer which was highly likely to occur anyway due to his heavy smoking.
My honorific review can never fully convey the extent of how wonderful the book is without falling into the quicksand of cliché. So, I will simply end this review with a direct and succinct command: READ THIS BOOK!
1 vote Kitscot | Nov 25, 2013 |
Wonderful last set of writings, unfinished at the end, of his process on viewing cancer, his life in context, his relationship to life as an atheist, all while he was being slowly killed both by the cancer in his throat and the side effects of the treatment. Very thought provoking and insightful. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
The book takes us on the journey from June of 2010 (when Hitchens was diagnosed) to December of 2011 (when he died). What a beautiful, awful journey it was. Samuel Johnson said that "The prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully." Hitchens was not being hanged, unless you mean that metaphorically, but his literate mind stayed focused and articulate. He goes into the rich detail of his body becoming a "reservoir of pain," meditates on the old wheeze that pain makes us better people, offers thoughts on whether the phrase "the war on cancer" is appropriate, and reveals that near the end he became a willing morphine junky: "How happily I measured off my day as I saw the injection being readied."
Being in Christopher’s company was rarely sobering, but always exhilarating. It is, however, sobering and grief-inducing to read this brave and harrowing account of his “year of living dyingly” in the grip of the alien that succeeded where none of his debate opponents had in bringing him down.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hitchens, ChristopherAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blue, CarolAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carter, GraydonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death.
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"Courageous, insightful and candid thoughts on malady and mortality from one of our most celebrated writers"--Provided by the publisher.

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