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Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
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Mortality (2012)

by Christopher Hitchens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,2015911,108 (4.1)69
"Courageous, insightful and candid thoughts on malady and mortality from one of our most celebrated writers"--Provided by the publisher.
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» See also 69 mentions

English (58)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
I will never think about illness the same way again. Superb! ( )
  jafisher1980 | May 3, 2020 |
Hitchens was a brilliant thinker and an insightful soul. Faced with his impeding death from cancer he decided to share with the rest of us his thoughts on the matter. The short book is a stark reminder to the rest of us that life, thought and soul are not to be wasted on trivialities. ( )
  parzivalTheVirtual | Mar 22, 2020 |
short little collection of essays on his illness and dying followed up by a sweet tribute from his wife. some of the essays are particularly poignant and some miss the mark in my estimation, but this is the first of his books i've read so i've started in the wrong place and don't understand what he's doing as much as another reader might.

this makes me really wish i had seen him speak, and i will seek out more of his writing and also videos of his lectures and debates. i didn't know before quite what we had lost.

a quote from ambrose bierce and then his own words:

"'Prayer: A petition that the laws of nature be suspended in favor of the petitioner; himself confessed unworthy.'

Everybody can see the joke that is lodged within this entry: The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right. Half-buried in the contradiction is the distressing idea that nobody is in charge, or nobody with any moral authority. The call to prayer is self-cancelling."

i still haven't given a lot of deep thought or virtually any research to my atheism as yet, so while this argument is likely quite basic, it was new to me and i found it wonderful:

"Now, it can be asserted with some confidence, first, that its [Christianity's] deity is all-wise and all-powerful and, second, that its congregants stand in desperate need of that deity's infinite wisdom and power. Just to give some elementary quotations, it is stated in the book of Philippians, 4:6, 'Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.' Deuteronomy 32:4 proclaims that 'he is the rock, his work is perfect,' and Isaiah 64:8 tells us, 'Now O Lord, thou art our father; we art clay and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand.' Note then, that Christianity insists on the absolute dependence of its flock, and then only on the offering of undiluted praise and thanks. A person using prayer time to ask for the world to be set to rights, or to beseech god to bestow a favor upon himself, would in effect be guilty of a profound blasphemy or at the very least a pathetic misunderstanding. It is not for the mere human to be presuming that he or she can advise the divine." ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Dec 14, 2019 |
Sometime in 2010, Christopher Hitchens realized that he was going to die. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and given cancer treatments that were the best we had at the time. While a cocktail of dangerous poisons doesn’t really seem all that useful to a perfectly healthy man, a person with cancer accepts that pretty well.

In any case, Hitchens was a world-famous atheist. He wrote a great deal while he was alive and could churn out articles in half-hour periods. This book is called Mortality and in it, Hitchens comes to terms with his own. He touches on the deaths of Voltaire and other famous doubters and talks about what he hopes to come of his own death.

I liked this one a lot. The final chapter is a series of incomplete musings, but the publisher states that it was incomplete by the time of his death, so I can accept that. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
I miss Hitch so, so much. ( )
  authenticjoy | Mar 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (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, 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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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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