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Mortalityby Christopher Hitchens
Synopses & Reviews
Christopher Hitchens was on a book tour for his memoir Hitch-22 when he discovered he had cancer of the esophagus, an episode described with characteristic wit and candor in a series of articles he wrote for Vanity Fair. In these essays, for which Hitchens was given the National Magazine Award, he describes his struggle not only with the disease but with its meaning to his friends and supporters, as well as his critics and detractors.
Both elegant and moving, these columns display insight and bravery, wrote the National Magazine Award judges. Christopher Hitchens is the best writer in the worst of times, and we are grateful for him.
"Diagnosed with the esophageal cancer to which he eventually succumbed in December 2011, cultural critic Hitchens found himself a finalist in the race of life, and in his typically unflinching and bold manner, he candidly shares his thoughts about his suffering, the etiquette of illness and wellness, and religion in this stark and powerful memoir. Commenting on the persistent metaphor of battle that doctors and friends use to describe his life with cancer (most of this book was published in Vanity Fair), Hitchens mightily challenges this image, for 'when you sit in a room... and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don't read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier is the very last one that will occur to you.' As a result of his various treatments, Hitchens begins to lose his voice, which, given his life as public gadfly through writing and speeches, devastates him. 'What do I hope for? If not a cure, then a remission. And what do I want back? In the most beautiful apposition of two of the simplest words in our language: the freedom of speech.' Hitchens's powerful voice compels us to consider carefully the small measures by which we live every day and to cherish them. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
About the Author
Christopher Hitchens was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate, and The Atlantic, and the author of numerous books, including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Orwell. He also wrote the international bestsellers god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitch-22: A Memoir, and Arguably. He died in 2011.
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