On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his best-selling 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 18 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.
©2012 Christopher Hitchens (P)2012 Hachette Audio
Much shorter than I would have liked, but in the two hours of audio, Hitchens brings to life the struggle of a man in the throws of a losing battle with stage 4 Esophogeal Cancer. This is a particularly nasty cancer that leaves little doubt as to outcome, just a question of how long. Hitchens brings his brand of insight and eloquence to a situation that is in some sense hopeless.
In the course of doing so we will all be able to better understand what thoughts, what emotions have gone through the minds of all those whom we love but have struggled with some form of a serious hopital stay. I don't know, but perhaps this would have shifted the tone and topics of conversation I had with loved ones who didn't make it through. It is incredibly difficult to put yourself in their shoes unless you've been there. Having been there recently and having read this viciously short, eloquent and insightful bit from Hitchens, I don't think I'll approach sickness and hospitals in the same way.
I do wish that there had been some more of self-indulgence and/or self-pity, but he didn't want to revel in those feelings, yet clearly it is something with which all in such situations suffer. A man with such eloquence and insight would have certainly shed new light on this aspect of serious / terminal disease.
Much has been made about the "fact" that Hitchens didn't change his world view when confronted with the end of his life. Unfortunately the brevity and scope of the book I don't believe would have allowed any of these issues to be addressed. There was talk at the end of the larger book he had still hoped to write. He at some point rails against the Randy Pausch approach to passing, but at the end perhaps the book I had hoped to read would have been Hitchens' version of that approach. I didn't want to hear more argument about or criticism of religion and how others choose to live, but I wanted to hear about the beauty and virtue of Hitchens' secular humanism.
Nonetheless, this book will touch you and change the way you empathize with terminal disease / serious hospital stay patients and for that reason alone it is highly recommended.
I found Christopher Hitchens. I am searching for more of his works. He has an irreverence that I find fascinating. I would not have liked this material at any other point in my life, but today it was inspirational.
Hitchens ongoing humor in the face of a painful death is awe inspiring.
I did listen in one sitting it wasn't very long, but neither was Hitchen's life.
It was eye opening. I hope to find many other of Hitchens insights and outlooks.
Thank God for a mother that read to all the time. Now I can not go anywhere without iPod and headphones. Books allow me to be an armchair traveler, student and audience.
Even though this book is not read by Hitch you can still here his voice in every word. His stories are/were always entertaining, very funny, educational and filled with his amazement of his life. As he said in his interview with Charlie Rose "I am leaving the party earlier than I though I would, much earlier. I also highly recommend Hitch 22. It is read by Hitch and you will listen over and over.
Cancer. Spares no one. Christopher Hitchens nails it. How it feels to have cancer, the fears, the dealing with the stupid things people say to you, to atheism, theism and beyond.
As one who is dealing with Stage 4 cancer and also facing my death, I found Mr. Hitchens words (and those of his wife) comforting, scary and real.
A brilliant book. Hard to listen to as one who is dying. A necessary read for all.
god no! The narrator is painful to hear. He has a British accent, but that is where the similarities between Hitch and Prebble end. I assume that the narrator is familiar with Hitch's awesome spoken eloquence; I certainly am. It is because of my familiarity with Christopher's cadence and feeling. That feeling is present in the text, and in my head when I read his text to myself, I had fully expected this narrator to make an attempt towards recreating it. Sadly, he did not. The narrator raced through the text until the text eventually lost all meaning and feeling. Rarely has there been such a poignant written work been so egregiously reduced by the act of being read out load.
When Prebble stopped speaking.
He robbed the work of its emotion and eloquence by reading so quickly that the word ran ceaselessly in one ear and out the other.
Yes. It made me sad that this work was so badly performed. I Wish I had just read the hard copy version of the book.
Just a small town boy, trying to make it in the big city.
No, this is my first.
:-))) Don't think that applies to this one.
Good, not great.
I love anything that Christopher Hitchens writes so this was a special book for me because I knew that it was his last. And in true Hitch fashion he was honest and candid right to the end.
I love when he talks about how there needs to be a cancer school to teach people what to say to those that have cancer... And I loved what his wife Carol Blue had to say at the end of the book about him.
I can't say that he brings anything one way or another... nothing against him but when you are used to hearing/listening to Christopher for so many years you just expect to hear his voice.
Yes, on one hand I didn't want to put it down and on the other I didn't want it to end because I knew it was the last he would write.
If you are a Christopher Hitchens fan then you will appreciate this book. It shows a side of him that most of us never got to see. RIP Christopher... You are missed.
Say something about yourself!
Apparently with great equanimity and ironic humor... and eloquence. I found this calming and refreshing and way more intelligent than the religious alternative.
If you've enjoyed anything written by Christopher Hitchens, you must listen to this last hurrah. He faces death with reality, and anger, and fights to the end, but and leaves the reader with a sense of loss. This is as it should be. Hitch was a great contributor to our society, and we should have a sense of loss at the end.
This collections of essays is a must for anyone interested in Hitchens. His humanity is on full display as he shares his thoughts, wishes, and fears during his last days.
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