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Diagnosed with the esophageal cancer to which he eventually succumbed in December 2011, cultural critic Hitchens found himself a finalist in the race of life, and in his typically unflinching and bold manner, he candidly shares his thoughts about his suffering, the etiquette of illness and wellness, and religion in this stark and powerful memoir. Commenting on the persistent metaphor of battle that doctors and friends use to describe his life with cancer (most of this book was published in Vanity Fair), Hitchens mightily challenges this image, for "when you sit in a room... and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don't read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier is the very last one that will occur to you." As a result of his various treatments, Hitchens begins to lose his voice, which, given his life as public gadfly through writing and speeches, devastates him. "What do I hope for? If not a cure, then a remission. And what do I want back? In the most beautiful apposition of two of the simplest words in our language: the freedom of speech." Hitchens's powerful voice compels us to consider carefully the small measures by which we live every day and to cherish them. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* For his millions of fans, Hitchens was like a valued dinner guest who never outstayed his welcome. His books, magazine columns, and verbal sparring rounds with the God-fearing best and brightest will stand as hymns to reason, and their smartly barbed rationality will never become tired or trite. Unfortunately, Hitchens has prematurely vacated his place at the table, leaving us wanting more. And here is more. Spare as it is and culled from several of his final Vanity Fair columns, this pamphlet-like tome resurrects great wit and insight from his final year of living dyingly. It would not be classic Hitchens unless he tackled prayer head-on. He does so brilliantly, quoting Ambrose Bierce and following prayer's logic to its circular conclusion. He addresses proper cancer etiquette and the best way to offer advice (don't). With a foreword by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and an afterword by Hitchens' widow, Carol Blue, this offers a final course, a dessert, if you will, from the crusty yet tenderhearted atheist to be read and relished.--Chavez, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist