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Mortality

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  20,016 ratings  ·  1,957 reviews
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 mark ...more
Hardcover, 104 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Twelve
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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  20,016 ratings  ·  1,957 reviews


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P-eggy
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 different world. The hospice. A world shrunk to a single room and that was defined by a wall of bitterness to one side, pain to another, a slow crumbling of the third wall, and the fourth was windows onto a beautiful garden she could only look at but no
...more
BlackOxford
The End of Reason

For those of us on the downward slide of dermal deterioration and progressive organ failure, Mortality is just the ticket: a sort of how-to about dying. No sugary, maudlin advice about the correct attitude toward the inevitable. No encouraging tales of the will to live. And no suggestions about mitigating the distress involved. Just a number of handy things to keep in mind about the roadblocks we’re all likely to meet on the road to peaceful non-existence.

Here’s the scoop:
...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 'n
...more
Darwin8u
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
“It's probably a merciful thing that pain is impossible to describe from memory”
― Christopher Hitchens, Mortality

description

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 pa
...more
Mike Puma
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-author, 2012

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, while elaboratinhim.

In

...more
Hadrian
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 fu
...more
Michael
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Kris
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 inspired by
...more
Carol
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book, cd-books
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 w
...more
Melanie
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The moment life departs the body, it belongs to death. At one with lamps, suitcases, carpets, door handles, windows. Fields, marshes, streams, mountains, clouds, the sky. None of these is alien to us. We are constantly surrounded by objects and phenomena from the realm of death. Nonetheless, there are a few things that arouse in us greater distaste than to see a human being caught up in it, at least if we are to judge by the efforts we make to keep corpses out of sight. In larger hospitals they ...more
Edward
Foreword, by Graydon Carter

--Mortality

Afterword, by Carol Blue
Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

Christopher Hitchens wrote this when he was dying, a book about his dying, so I expected some strong emotion, even anguish in these pages. Not so. He comes across as coolly removed from the esophageal cancer consuming him.

The dust jacket promises a “riveting account of his affliction,” yet the book is as much a snoozy discussion of Nietzsche, religion, and medical advancements as it is about Hitchens’s cancer. He’s at his best when he gets personal, describing his medica
...more
Lena
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
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
David Schaafsma
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Why read a book or see a movie about death? I told my mother-in-law that I was reading a number of graphic memoirs about cancer, surviving it or not, and she asked me, "Why would you even do that?" I answered her that I thought it was interesting how people faced this all-too-common terrible disease, and even death. My wife says, "I'm not sure why you would want to read something so sad," but she does read dystopian books all the time, which she says are sci fi and not the same thing, and maybe ...more
Ivana
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 p
...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
...more
Jan Rice
I had never read anything by Christopher Hitchens except maybe a brief excerpt by or about him when he was dying, and although I'd heard snippets of his debates over religion they didn't capture my full interest. So I was surprised at the quality of this short book of essays published after he was diagnosed. Even more surprising is that he could still keep his wits about him and create while he was so ill. I can't think straight or necessarily even think about thinking if my back has gone out or ...more
Philip
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
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?


...more
B0nnie
Aug 27, 2012 marked it as to-read
*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 of the raucous, joyous, impromptu eight-hour din
...more
G.J.
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Whilst I may not share many of the opinions of Christopher Hitchens, I cannot but express huge admiration for his ability to put into words what so many must think when faced with a Cancer diagnosis. His thoughts, feelings and reasoning on how to deal with the inevitable make compelling reading.
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 wa
...more
Bettie
02:11:00

Read by Simon Prebble. Afterword spoken by Carole Blue

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 de
...more
Lyn Elliott
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: death-and-dying
It is extraordinary to read the inner life of anybody grappling with oncoming death, and Hitch being Hitch he has done it differently and memorably.
Two ideas particularly stand out for me, both connecting me to thoughts of dear friends.
The first is the phrase perhaps best know from Hitchens' writing of his life after diagnosis with cancer as 'living dyingly'. I think of the three people I know in similar situations who chose to die livingly. There is a difference in emphasis that is
...more
Chaunceton Bird
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Christopher Hitchens only produced five-star writing, and this is more of the same. This is a compilation of his Vanity Fair articles chronicling his descent into the black nothingness of death. It is moving and poignant, but is full of Hitch slaps and jokes. This short work should be on everybody's shelves next to When Breath Becomes Air.
Ali
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?"
Ana
Time after time I read Hitchens and I shudder at the thought of his mind. He is a giant of thought of any kind, political, religious, economic, you name it, he's researched, questioned and written about it. This personal account of his last days is haunting, to say the least. To be able to concentrate your intelect on such a high point as to look down from it to cancer is a feat that I doubt many of us could ever achieve. The sharpness of his tongue and the broadness of his thought managed to st ...more
Kevin Shepherd
"Dying is an art, like everything else." ~Sylvia Plath

Christopher Hitchens had a much longer book in mind when he started writing Mortality. His chronicle of living, and dying, with stage four esophageal cancer is a testament to his tenacity, and it seems fitting that he died as he lived: brilliant, irreverent and completely cognizant of inevitability.

"...the thing about stage four is that there is no stage five"
jeremy
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-bio
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. ...more
Vivian
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
It's probably a merciful thing that pain is impossible to describe from memory. It's also impossible to warn against.


Definitely a voice I will miss. Oddly, I feel a sense of loss because I missed Hitchens. If I'd been paying better attention I might have heard him before he passed. But then, I meet so many great voices after they're gone that it shouldn't matter, but in a peculiar way I feel like this was 'ships in the night' and a little bereft.

This is a candid account of Hitchens' diagnosis
...more
Darlene
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have always had a kind of love/hate relationship with Christopher Hitchens. I suppose hate is too strong a word... but I have definitely felt infuriated and frustrated with some of his views. And yet, at the same time, I have always admired his intellect and thoughtfulness. A self-proclaimed atheist, Mr. Hitchens seemed to look upon the world's religions as more a source of humanity's problems than it was a source of comfort or goodness. He discussed his views on this thoroughly in his book, G ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
I have no love lost for Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).

That's probably I got least affected compared to many of my friends who have read and liked this farewell book of the great literary critic. When I was new in Goodreads, I heard about him from a fellow Filipino who is in Goodreads but lives in the Visayas. He ranted and raved about him because he thought that the literary criticism books of Hitchens were must-reads for all serious literary readers. I got some of those books but
...more
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Drew Sennett 1 11 Aug 27, 2015 07:36AM  
Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. someone to look with powers to remove 4 243 Mar 26, 2014 06:53PM  
The passing away of a great man and author. 4 116 Dec 06, 2013 07:41AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Mortality: ISBN 9781455502752 2 25 Feb 15, 2013 10:56AM  

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Christopher Eric Hitchens 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 talk shows and lecture circuits. He was also a media fellow at the Hoover Institution. ...more
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“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?” 302 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.” 200 likes
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