Reading of one’s own death can have a strange effect on a person. In the case of Christopher Hitchens, it prompted Hitch 22 a memoir of exceptional quality. While on tour promoting his memoir, Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. During the subsequent treatments, he continued to work: writing, debating, appearing on TV, and granting interviews. His Vanity Fair articles appear are collected for us in Mortality.
I’ll get this out of the way before continuing the review: at the time of his death I considered Christopher Hitchens to be the greatest living writer of non-fiction. He should be considered among the greatest to ever use the English language. I had secured tickets to his appearance at a local Denver bookstore. His cancer was diagnosed just three days before the appearance, ending the tour and ending my chance to meet a personal hero.
Hitchens fought his cancer for the next 18 months, or as he put it, “I am encouraged to ‘battle’ my own tumor, I can’t shake the feeling that it is the cancer that is making war on me.” While ultimately this would prove to be his last fight it would also prove to be his most dignified.
I will not waste your time here with a wordy review, it could never live up to Hitch’s standards anyway. I’ll simply tell you to read this book, and read it slowly. Marvel at what the English language is capable of and marvel at how this man faced malady with bravery, grace, and humor.
I leave you with some wonderful Hitchens moments.