Hitchens, updated - Macleans.ca

Hitchens, updated


Christopher Hitchens is in for a grim spell:

Working back from the cancer-ridden squamous cells that these first results disclosed, it took rather longer than that to discover the disagreeable truth. The word “metastasized” was the one in the report that first caught my eye, and ear. The alien had colonized a bit of my lung as well as quite a bit of my lymph node. And its original base of operations was located—had been located for quite some time—in my esophagus. My father had died, and very swiftly, too, of cancer of the esophagus. He was 79. I am 61. In whatever kind of a “race” life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist.

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Hitchens, updated

  1. Given his current condition, I found his discussion of death at the beginning of his autobiography a little chilling.

    Incidentally, I'm about halfway through, and the whole thing so far seems to be name dropping, discussions of (to me) rather obscure literature and poetry, and an inscrutable exhibition of his impressive vocabulary (which I think he did deliberately so I wouldn't understand). Does it pick up at some point for his more brutish readers, Andrew?

    • Nope, that's pretty much how it goes. If anything, it gets more like you describe. The first half I found much better than the second. Once he gets the the USA, it gets pretty self-serving.

      • Well that's a shame then. I'm finding his "you wouldn't believe how many books I've read and important people I've met" schtick a little tiresome already. I think it's an autobiography written for himself and his contemporaries as opposed to one written for general consumption.

        • I thought the first third was great. But once he gets out of school, it becomes as you describe. One page at a time, it's entertaining because there's usually a fun anecdote or great one liner to be had, but eventually you realise he's not going to any big reveals. Amis's Experience was far better, and even it had big problems.

    • Are you also nasty and short, brutish reader?

      • Well, average height. But the other descriptions apply. And you can include my poverty and solitariness in the assessment, if you're curious.

  2. This is so obvious that it's hardly worth mentioning–for years now, whenever I read a profile of Hitchens that highlighted (as most did) his rakish, Scotch-fuelled, heavy-smoking lifestyle, it was hard not to see it as foreshadowing for an ominous bit of news that was just around the corner. Hitch himself said it best: "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."

    Good luck, Hitch. I hope the chemo-poison is successful in its xenocidal mission to obliterate the alien colonies within.

  3. Hitchens,to me, has never been a very sympathetic character. But, then, he'd probably never ask for sympathy.
    A friend of mine got a similar diagnosis a short time ago. The next day he made his own funeral arrangements,
    got his paper work affairs in order, and went to play a round of golf. He felt good physically.
    Then he was offered ,and accepted, a round of a new chemotherapy option. After two weeks he was a death's door
    and the family was preparing for the end. The treatment was stopped and if he survives the acute damage he may recover
    some measure of pleasure in his remaining life. Life and death is complicated. And, in my opinion, a must-read …

  4. Both a sad and highly predictable story. Best of luck in your fight with cancer, Hitchens.

  5. I thought Hitchens' thoughts on people praying for him were touching:

    I think that prayer and holy water, and things like that are all fine. They don't do any good, but they don't necessarily do any harm. It's touching to be thought of in that way. It makes up for those who tell me that I've got my just desserts [sic]… I wish it was more consoling. But I have to say there's some extremely nice people, including people known to you, have said that I'm in their prayers, and I can only say that I'm touched by the thought.</i?
    <a href="http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/07/should-we-p.html
    ” target=”_blank”>http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/07/should-we-p.html