Sunday, April 02, 2017

Christopher Hitchens' Mortality

You immediately notice how short Christopher Hitchens' Mortality (2012) is, and soon learn he had a much larger vision in his head. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June 2010 and died 18 months later. 

It is his effort to show what it means to be, as he puts it, "living dyingly." It's about suffering, straightforward and without wallowing, without religion (of course, for the famous atheist) and with apparently no regrets, and with no small amount of hope. He keeps coming back to the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," which after his diagnosis he began to see as illusion. Some outcomes were just plainly not leaving you stronger, even if they put off death for a while.

Almost fittingly, the prose is as tight as ever until the final chapter, which is just jottings he was writing in hospitals and never able to make whole. 


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