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Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
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Mortality (2012)

by Christopher Hitchens

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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
A short collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens about living with the cancer that would eventually kill him.

I confess, I don't have a deep familiarity with Hitchens or his work, and I have slightly mixed feelings about what I had seen from him before reading this. But I did very much appreciate the thoughtful, candid, unsentimental way he writes about what he calls his deportation to the land of the unwell, and about the various physical, social, psychological, and philosophical aspects of that journey. ( )
  bragan | Nov 11, 2018 |
If you're already a fan of Hitchens, this is a must-read. If you're not, then it probably won't mean much to you - perhaps you'd be better off starting elsewhere. Hitchens applies his trademark wit and eloquence to the subject of his cancer diagnosis and near-certain death sentence, which he approaches with all the pragmatism and lack of self-pity that you would expect.

A short one - it won't ask more than a couple of hours of your time, at most.

The epilogue by his wife Carol is particularly poignant. ( )
  adam.currey | Oct 3, 2018 |
This is the first thing I've read from Mr. Hitchens and I'm sure there's some kind of irony attached to the face that I'm reading his last work first. Maybe it means I have to wait to read his first book until I'm done with everything else he's written? I would hate for it to mean I'm done reading Hitchen's because I already know the ending, because I really did enjoy the book.

You could say I have a connection to this book because my mother is a breast cancer survivor, but that kind of association would put me in contact with millions it seems. But what if I told you I had a very close friend, who was also brilliant, and also a writer, and also an atheist, and also died from esophageal cancer? Her name was Tanya and it happened only 2 years ago.

When she found out, I was told, in person, and I saw her two or three times after that, but the cancer struck quickly and she soon retreated into the privacy of her family. I didn't see her suffering and for that I'm both thankful and regretful. Reading about Hitchen's journey through "living dyingly" was almost like a second chance, a view into what it must have been like for her. It gave me a better idea of maybe why she didn't want people around to "cheer her up". Made me feel less like I wasn't that important to her.

So I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has any brilliant, writer, atheist friends with esophageal cancer. Or maybe just anyone who's trying to "support" friends or family who happen to be fighting cancer in any form. ( )
  ragwaine | Aug 16, 2018 |
Not my usual type of read. In fact I have never come across any Christopher Hitchens before. Perhaps I have been living under a rock, which is quite likely since I have not had a TV hooked up to receive a signal from anywhere aside from my home media centre since 2007. I prefer to read and not be dictated to by a broadcaster, or I'll choose what I want to watch from my own collection. In this instance I am glad I chose to read. What a dry wit, I'd like to hear a conversation between Hitchens and Alexander Pope. This small piece of writing might not be everyone's cup of tea but it is open, it is honest and gives an insight into the character of the man, who displayed through these words the ability to certainly "live dyingly" with dignity and conviction, and have his readers understand what that means. Now I'm off to YouTube to listen to a debate or two. ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
The author details his dying experience. This is not up to the standard of his usual prose, but it is difficult to write about dying, I imagine. Much of this was bits that were compiled after his death, and the introduction is a moving tribute to a man who both inspired and infuriated millions (often at the same time). His political commentary is limited here, but he does include a chapter on those who pray for him, and wish his conversion. A fighter to the end, he gives some interesting insight into the decision to poison your body for the possibility of a few more months, and whether it is worth it. It is always difficult watching someone die, even if you're only doing it in words. ( )
  Devil_llama | Dec 16, 2016 |
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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, Christopherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blue, CarolAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carter, GraydonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Foreword
At a dinner in Los Angeles this spring, a young actor named Emile Hirsch came up to me in a state of high excitement.
—Graydon Carter
I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death.
Afterword
Onstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.
—Carol Blue
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Book description
On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis.

Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this riveting account of his affliction, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death.

MORTALITY is the exemplary story of one man's refusal to cower in the face of the unknown, as well as a searching look at the human predicament. Crisp and vivid, veined throughout with penetrating intelligence, Hitchens's testament is a courageous and lucid work of literature, an affirmation of the dignity and worth of man.

[retrieved 5/7/2014 from Amazon.com]
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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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