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Mortality: By Christopher Hitchens

Last Updated 10/29/2012 8:07:25 PM

By: John B. Moore

Mortality By Christopher Hitchens (Twelve)Mortality

By Christopher Hitchens


In his heartbreaking final book “Mortality,” published after he died of cancer, writer Christopher Hitchens – best known for his books and columns about religion and God (he describes himself as an antitheist) – documents his final months of life.

The book begins with Hitchens on tour promoting his best-selling “Hitch 22,” getting sick in New York and rushed to an ER where he is shortly diagnosed with cancer. Equal parts frustrating and funny, the publicity around his illness brings in hundreds of prayers for him from debate partners and religious foes he has crossed in his career. Even when dealing with the most devastating bit of news just about anyone has to deal with, Hitchens still keeps remarkable perspective and a sense of humility about what he is facing.

“…I am badly oppressed by the gnawing sense of waste,” he writes early on after receiving the diagnosis. “I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it.” Among the events he was counting on experiencing in the future were witnessing his children marry and the World Trade Center being rebuilt. “But I understand this sort of non-thinking for what it is: sentimentality and self-pity.”

The irony of dealing with esophageal cancer and the effects of the treatment were not lost on the writer and debater, who was losing his “two instruments”: his voice and pen. Hitchens died a year and a half later, but not before finishing the bulk of “Mortality,” his most personal and touching piece of writing in a career filled with inner reflection and personal revelation. 

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