Mortality
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Mortality

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  9,577 ratings  ·  1,177 reviews
During the US book tour for his memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens collapsed in his New York hotel room to excoriating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of deeply moving Vanity Fair pieces, he was being deported 'from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.' Over the next year he...more
Hardcover, 106 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Atlantic (first published January 1st 2012)
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Petra X
Update to the spoiler My son ended up having several surgical procedures and is well on the mend. Today he heard that he passed his finals in law. So now it's on to law school. Thank you everyone for the good wishes. It was a hard year to live through.

_____

3.75 stars really, but I gave it 5 because Christopher Hitchens wrote it whilst dying of cancer and because of the concept of cancer being another country foreign to the one that we live in.

My mother died of cancer and it really was a differen...more
Cheryl
Wow. He did it. He did dying just as he did living.
He faced his mortality with a steadfast gaze, as well as his trademark wit, humour, and incessant curiosity. His real most deep-seated fear was of losing his ability to express himself, of not being able to talk or to write.
He does still get the last word. I love that this book comes out posthumously. It's as if he is talking to us right now: "And another thing!"
His wife Carol Blue wrote a moving afterword in which she described their 'new wor...more
Mike Puma

I’m one of those people who always enjoyed hearing Christopher Hitchens speak—on anything—in his confrontational style, with his humor, his lightning-fast logic, with the breadth and depth of his intellect always on display. I miss Christopher Hitchens. Even when I disagreed with his position (the invasion of Iraq), I’d still marvel at his grasp of fact and adamant (belligerent) defense. I miss him.

In Mortality, Hitchens describes his diagnosis, treatment and the subsequent failure of the body,

...more
Michael
A book on the dark subject of death that lightens the load with straight shots of clarity, honesty, and a form of wisdom. For those who loved the cultural critic Hitchens as a voice of truth that perfectly balanced logic and wit, fear not the potentials for emotional devastation in this discourse on his own process of death from esophageal cancer. It’s short enough to be read in one sitting and contains no self-pity. He gave me some courage about my own mortality.

The book contains several essays...more
Hadrian
This is proving very hard to write about.

Hitch was a writer, to his core. I know this just through the sense of his writings - that's how I met so many other interesting people. It was something which defined him.

To this extent, it's not too surprising that new books come out after he has passed. This little collection of essays are meditative, a little self-pitying, but mostly as dignified as cancer would let him be. Fierce and stoic, almost up to the very end.

He was funny, provocative, and ch...more
Darwin8u
This short collection of writings done by Christopher Hitchens detailing his experience with cancer, dying and mortality reminds me in no little way of a 21st century Montaigne. While I was expecting Hitchen's stoic materialism to jump off the page, I was also surprised by his gentleness. This is a man who loved life. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved to think, to write and to speak. Is there any greater testament to a life well-lived than to read or listen to a man's final wor...more
Carol
I didn’t always agree with Christopher Hitchens (war with Iraq, for instance) but I always admired his brilliant mind and I enjoyed his feisty, combative personality. Because Hitchens was an outspoken atheist, I was most curious to read his observations on mortality. These moving and brave final essays were so much more than what I expected. I found them to be deeply thought-provoking and sometimes difficult but compelling to read.

The author died of esophageal cancer in 2011, which was as ironic...more
Cheryl
Christopher Hitchens died a year ago next month (Dec. 2011). These rememberances are of the eighteen months he spent preparing for death and hoping for life. His terminal diagnosis was esophageal cancer, a hideous disease that effects the ability to speak. Although wisdom is everywhere present in his last essays for Vanity Fair reproduced in MORTALITY, it is to this loss that he addresses so intimately that I wish to share.

"Most despond-inducing and alarming of all, so far, was the moment when m...more
Antonomasia
Transcendent and universal, yet without a happy ending: there could be no other title. And it's not like Christopher Hitchens would have authored yet another celebrity cancer memoir, is it?

He writes from "Tumortown" but beyond, there is a vast less-explored interior, where the likes of me hang out, those with the thousands, millions of different more-or-less sickly Cinderella illnesses. Though they comprehend the city's size and very serious troubles, they are sometimes resentful and bewildered...more
Lena
Whatever one's opinion on Christopher Hitchens' religious views, it's indisputable that the man can write. This collection of essays was penned after his diagnosis of terminal esophageal cancer and before his untimely death.

The focus of this book is more about his experience of dying of cancer than anything else, but his chapter on the varying responses of Christians to his diagnosis is among the richest in the book. The contrast between those who gleefully indulged in their belief that this wa...more
Philip
Hitchens writes: "If I convert it's because it's better that a believer dies than that an atheist does." -pg. 91.

There's no denying the integrity in his life, nor the intellect and wit in his speaking and writing.

But what can I make of this book? It was an easy enough read, but the fact that we're approaching the topic from two diametrically opposed worldviews made it challenging. Is it enough that we respect one another, or give some semblance of respect?


I've watched Hitchens debate religion an...more
B0nnie
Aug 27, 2012 B0nnie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
*sob* this will break your heart:

"The following is Carol Blue’s afterword to her husband Christopher Hitchens’ book Mortality, out in September from Twelve.

Onstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.
If you ever saw him at the podium, you may not share Richard Dawkins’ assessment that “he was the greatest orator of our time,” but you will know what I mean—or at least you won’t think, She would say that, she’s his wife.

Offstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.

At home at one o...more
Ivana
The day I found out that Christopher Hitchens had died was the day I felt as if someone from my own family had perished.
Christopher Hitchens is, by far, the world's greatest orator, thinker, debater... and I say "is", because, despite his death his words continue to reverberate. He is alive. He will always be alive.
And just as his wife put it in the afterword, "Christopher always has the last word".

"Mortality" is Hitchens' journey through what must have been some of the most painful time in his...more
Kim
This was like walking in on the final act of some grand production. Walking in on Romeo dooming himself as Juliet awakes. The last cries of ‘Jack! Rose!’ as the Leocicle drops into the icy Atlantic...hearing the last notes of ‘Hiding All Away’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Yeah. Like that.

By now you know that I’m not the deepest well in the field. I spent my twenties reading Weetzie Bat and bopping around to King Missile. I know, I should have been studying the NYTBR or listening to Ira Glass...more
Scott Collins
Hitchens had no patience for pieties or platitudes. What subject summons up more pieties and platitudes from others than one's own impending demise? His diagnosis of stage 4 esophageal cancer (there is, he reminds us, no stage 5) makes for a perfect match of author and subject. No one better than Hitch - in-yer-face atheist, talker extraordinaire, all-around pain-in-the-butt - to send the sanctimonious scurrying. My favorite episode here involves his dialogue with a matron at a book signing who...more
jeremy
when christopher hitchens passed away last december, the world lost one of its most trenchant, penetrating, and unabashedly forthright journalists and thinkers. as an intellectual luminary and stalwart critic of organized religion, zionism, and political duplicity, hitchens must surely rank amongst the late twentieth century's most iconoclastic and outspoken figures. with acolytes and detractors aplenty, hitchens was often a divisive figure, yet one seemingly committed to veracity above all.

mort...more
Erik Simon
In the Foreword of this little pamphlet of a book, Graydon Carter claims that it contains some of Hitchens' best writing, which are pretty strong words, but he's not wrong. A sample:

In one way, I suppose, I have been "in denial" for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason, I can't see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it's all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper int...more
Lesley
Oct 06, 2012 Lesley rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lesley by: Enrique Valdivia
I might give this book 5 stars on a second read. I watched my mother's chronic illness become terminal over the course of about 12 years. So much of what Hitchens writes was so familiar -- but he only had 19 months to face it all. Being with my mother in her death stripped the concept of all sentimentality for me. It's simply a fucking nightmare. But real. I feel like Hitchens captured that awfulness -- in every sense of the word, and again, without sentimentality. He calls out the bullshit ways...more
Carol Smith
Ah, Hitch. Miss you. After reading half of Mortality last night, I fell asleep to a personal, internal conversation with you. How is it that I can miss someone so much that I never actually knew? That I feel I knew. Why is that? Hitch identifies it, I think, when he thanks a past editor who advised him to write "more like the way you talk". Even to the last he did just that. He speaks to you, the reader.

I had already read most of these essays as they came out in Vanity Fair during his 19 months...more
Jud Barry
Pity the dying nonbeliever, but not for the usual reason: the bout of dire existential wrestling with the approaching probabilities of afterlife. No, rather pity him or her for the grotesqueness with which popular culture, fueled by believers unable to contemplate such a reality, endows the scene.

It's not that way. I've lost two parents, both unbelievers, and both of whom met their deaths with as much dignity as their conditions allowed, which is probably par for the non-believing final hole.

If...more
Chris
It's really too bad that Vanity Fair seems to have removed from their site the article by Hitchens that makes up chapter 6 in this book, then titled as "Trial of the Will". It is one of the best pieces of writing that I have read from him. Honest, open and vulnerable (the last word - vulnerable - not previously a word I would have used to describe Hitchens), admitting prior to his illness that he had a much more Nietzschian/macho ideal of "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger", but after he be...more
Jason
As I have previous indicated in this forum, I had the rare and humble experience of meeting Christopher Hitchens at a book signing; and the equally humbling experience of having him quip about my professed love of the complex language sometimes utilized in his work. The date was June 15, 2010. One week, exactly, after he had been seen in a NYC emergency room for a then presumed heart attack. Shortly thereafter, the news emerged about the grave situation surrounding his health.

I was immediately s...more
Terri Lynn
I put off reading this for a bit because I knew it would hurt. I have been a Christopher Hitchens fan since his excellent and well researched book on Jewish/Christian/Muslim mythologies (among others)God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything God Is Not Great  How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens came out. I had been able to share that book with adults, teens, and even some intelligent tweens who had been brainwashed into believing in Christian mythology as well as using it as a worldview text when teaching homeschool classes on the subject...more
Mike Schutt
Wonderful and sad book by the great literary wit of our time. His poisonous, poorly argued, and completely out-of-character God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything notwithstanding, Hitchens was inspiring on a number of levels.

This short collection includes seven short essays and some fragments written will he "lived dyingly" after being diagnosed with the cancer that took his life, plus a lovely afterward by his wife and a fitting forward by his editor.

I appreciated reading his thoug...more
Christopher Wm. Rasmussen
Hitchens has certainly lived up to his reputation in his last work Mortality; one which, with the accommodation of his hallmark magnificent prose and style, hauntingly details his last two living years. To say that this is his magnum opus would be to discredit his earlier works and indeed to succumb to perhaps a pitying, premature judgment. What I would say, however, is that this catalogue of his process of death (or as he would say, 'living dyingly') is certainly the most honest and introspecti...more
Maria Fuentes
.... "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" C. Hitchens.
Charlene
How do I manage to rate a book with five stars on the Goodreads? Simply it's a book I can't shake. Either a book leaves me with a lingering headache, or with times when I break into the giggles. or else it causes me to write poetry. A five star rating is reserved for a book that leaves me tongue tied or spent.

Such is the case of Christopher Hitchens very short and succinct, Mortality. This book haunts me. We knew Hitchens. We joined him in the living room many times as we watched the Daily Show...more
Jason Carlin
I'd never read Hitchens before, only religiously - no pun intended - scoured the internet for debates where he clinically embedded himself in my mind. To my benefit, this made reading this book ridiculously more pleasurable. Hitch has the most susceptible tone of voice imaginable, so being able to hear it so distinctly only reinforced the conviction he already showed in speech after speech.

That being said, I found that most of the pages seeped that vague hint of melancholy - although I don't th...more
Scott
You know the story here, right? The inimitable Christopher Hitchens--outspoken atheist, cultural critic, humorist and polemicist, hard-drinking, hard-smoking, ETC.--just as his memoir, the best-selling Hitch 22, was being published, collapsed in agony in a NYC hotel room. Diagnosis: esophageal cancer that had subsequently spread just about everywhere. Not good. Hitchens lived another year and a half in "the land of malady", aka "Tumortown", getting chemo, fending off prayers, losing his voice (f...more
Keith Davis
It is impossible to imagine nonexistence, so in our imaginations we are all immortal. Stoicism teaches that it is irrational to fear something we cannot change or avoid, but rationality is a learned skill and our consciousness is not rational, so we fear death.

I don't believe there is anyone left in the world who has not lost a friend or family member to cancer. It is a horrible wasting disease in which your own cells turn against you, and the treatments are as brutal as the sickness.

Christopher...more
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Goodreads Librari...: someone to look with powers to remove 4 232 Mar 26, 2014 06:53PM  
The passing away of a great man and author. 4 101 Dec 06, 2013 07:41AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Mortality: ISBN 9781455502752 2 23 Feb 15, 2013 10:56AM  
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Christopher Eric Hitchens (April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011) was an English-born American author, journalist and literary critic. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens was also a political observer, whose best-selling books — the most famous being God Is Not Great — made him a staple of tal...more
More about Christopher Hitchens...
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever Hitch-22: A Memoir Arguably: Selected Essays Letters to a Young Contrarian

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“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?” 105 likes
“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.” 77 likes
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