I guess it is never easy to write about dying. More so, when you know it is coming at you, day by day, almost second by second. Christopher Hitchens, one of the greatest writers that Britain has ever produced and not even the tumor in his esophagus could stop him from writing. I have yet to read one of his greatest works, his memoir, called, Hitch-22, but for me, for now, "Mortality" has been a roller-coaster of a read.
"Mortality" is a book, a short book collecting the essays that Hitchens wrote before his death, about his death and the way he felt about everything related to it and how his atheism led to rational thinking and emotion as well. He is honest and painfully so throughout the book. The details of the disease are not given and rightly so (since it is quite private), however at the same time, the pathos is there, the honesty remains and therefore, the connection with the reader.
For me, the connection was in the title. The very word, "Mortality" is unsettling (I am certain that that is the reason it was chosen as the title). It just made me realise about the longevity of our lives and what we can never be sure of. Hitchens gives it as it is and yet at some parts of the book, I found his writing tender and sometimes frustrated. As he says about people providing advice at various stages: "You sometimes feel that you may expire from sheer ADVICE!" This could also be seen as the humourous angle of the book, which doesn't let go. He knows what he is writing. He is aware of how his physical abilities are declining day after day and yet what he wants the most is the ability to speak (which does become a concern later) and write (which is of a God-like status to the writer).
At the end of it all, Hitchens just shows it the way it is - death and life, the way it is meant to be, not sugar-coated, but true to life.
This book moved me in so many places and in many ways. Hitchens writes without remorse or pity and that is how the book should be and I am glad it turned out this way. The writing is powerful and stuns you in silent contemplation, like a good book should. At the end of it all, Hitchens just shows it the way it is - death and life, the way it is meant to be, probably not sugar-coated like his works aren't, but true to life. True to the way it impacts people. The way he lived. All that I can say is that I for one, will be reading his other essays now, as this one just proved his genius to me.