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Saturday, September 01, 2012

'Mortality' by Christopher Hitchens

This small book, which is just published, is sadly the last one by this polemicist extraordinaire.

It's a collection of essays, first published for Vanity Fair, while he was 'living dyingly'.

For someone who has been following him for a long time, it pains me to think he is no more.

As he puts it in the book, he can write as if he's talking to me. He's a writer, journalist, and a public intellectual, who makes me think. I love that.

And, what a formidable debater he was! I miss his voice, dearly. And his fantastic sense of humour.

He was also a man of courage, best demonstrated as a strong defender of Salman Rushdie, when he was hit by Fatwa.
When most of the intellectuals and governments were strangely against the author, rather than Ayatollah, he stood by him, not because Rushdie was his friend, but because he saw it as a full frontal attack by the religious on the thing he always valued the most, 'Freedom of Speech'.

Here, he looks at his own mortality closely in the eye, and all those words are, as always, lucid and beautiful.

'..... taking me from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady'

I've seen lots of his lectures and debates, but, this one is the most memorable.
Considering he was facing his imminent death, this closing argument is the most touching, and beautifully summarises his work of lifetime.

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