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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.

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    A Tragic Tale of one Mans Woe

    “Mortality” by Christopher Hitchens is a profound look at a cancer patients treatment from his perspective. Starting from the beginning with his defiance with remarks such as ‘I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me” the blade of his defiance stays sharp through to the end, though his lamentations such as “in the war against Thanatos, if we must term it a war, the immediate loss of Eros is a huge initial sacrifice.” Adding the tint of sorrow to the wordsmiths sculpture. Its also a the story of how he struggles to maintain his voice and writing ability; as he laments his medication for making him feel he can write, but also numbing his extremities causing him distress that he soon may not be able to write. The final chapter, which is a mere collection of unfinished notes, comes with a somber realization that Hitch passed before finishing the book. The “Afterword” by his wife Carol Blue was littered with raw emotion as she detailed small traces of his home life which the author rarely shared. Reading his notes followed by her afterword was enough to move me to tears. I could easily imagine my own wife in this situation “searching through my old books” and reading my notes: small fragments of me left behind. Her finale to the book warrants repeating in any summary. The tragedy of it not lost on this reader: "Christopher always gets the last word."


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