Christopher Hitchens’ Mortality: The “unpublished jottings” of the late, great writer and thinker.


Publisher’s note: These fragmentary jottings, published as the last chapter of Christopher Hitchens’ new book, Mortality, were left unfinished at the time of Hitchens’ death in December. Annotations by Slate editor David Plotz. 

“Remember, you too are mortal”—hit me at the top of my form and just as things were beginning to plateau. My two assets my pen and my voice—and it had to be the esophagus. All along, while burning the candle at both ends, I’d been “straying into the arena of the unwell” and now “a vulgar little tumor” was evident. This alien can’t want anything; if it kills me it dies but it seems very single-minded and set in its purpose. No real irony here, though. Must take absolute care not to be self-pitying or self-centered.

In her afterword to Mortality, Hitchens’ widow, Carol Blue, writes of how she misses “the unpublished Hitch: the countless notes he left for me in the entryway, on my pillow, the emails he would send while we sat in different rooms in our apartment.” For writers less productive than Hitchens—that is, all of us—the idea of unpublished Hitch is inconceivable. He was everywhere—on TV when he wasn’t giving a speech, his latest book either just published or about to be published, the author of pieces in Slate, Vanity Fair, and theAtlantic in the same week. How could anything have gone unpublished? How could there be any stories, any jokes, any insults, any perfect Wodehouse citations that were never silver-tongued out into the world? Yet despite writing as much as he did, he left some behind, either for friends and family, or, in this case, as notes.

The publisher calls these “fragmentary jottings.” But even poisoned by chemo, even down 14 pounds, Hitch wrote with as much toughness, energy, and wit as ever.

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Written By: Christopher Hitchens and David Plotz
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  1. Hitch never failed to make me think and laugh, I always gained a new insight on some matter when hearing him speak. I miss him.

  2. I ordered this book as soon as I heard, which is about two days ago. 🙂

    I guess I will have time to plow through the Hadith as well as the King James bible before it arrives.
    The webshop I order books from take forever to send. 😛

    Anyhow, some fresh lines of insight from our dear Cristopher Hitchens will be most welcome!

  3. Amazon says my copy should be delivered by August 30th; am looking forward to reading it with both anticipation and trepidation. Reading the man’s last words will be inspiring but sad at the same time.

  4. We were graced by the existence of such a man and are in grief by his absence from the world.

  5. I bought this for my kindle yesterday, finished reading it this morning. Never has the shortness of a book made me so sad.

    In my opinion, this is not Hitchens finest writing, though it is still up to his standard, and well worth a read. There are some interesting thoughts and perspectives, but not quite as much as I am used to from Hitchens. The last chapter, which contains just very small fragments, should have been cut, one of his strengths was the coherence and lucidity of his texts, these short “gems” could have been the foundation of a good text, but by themselves they seem fairly pointless. I am not surprised that they were included though, as it is, as far as I know, the last bit of new material we will ever get.

  6. I love this man!  I just wish I could have met and told him how much he changed my life!  Though I never met him, I miss him.  I often watch videos of him on youtube, and often tear up and cry!

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