I was lucky to receive a lot of books, guessing people thought I’d be bored in hospital. I’m planning to read all of them, I decided to start with Mortality by Christopher Hitchens. The reason I chose to start with it, was the sheer directness of the title. The person who gave it to me said, and my opiate awash mind struggled to make perfect memories, something like he couldn’t think of a more appropriate book!
I’ve read a similar book Tuesdays with Morrie, which is about an old lecturer and general advice giver who is near death and one of his former students sits with him every Tuesday, it’s much more of a chronological narrative than Hitchen’s book. Mortality is more a collection of essays from a formidable writer, which I confess I’ve never read any of his books. He’s a staunch atheist and many religious zealots said his throat cancer was a consequence of his blasphemy I.e. To stop him speak. His view on religion is very strong nor did he recant and become a Christian prior to his demise, making the point if there is an omnipresent God surely it wouldn’t be fooled by such an act. Personally if anyone wants to pray for this agnostic please go ahead. Although I do find it hard to rationalise why a God would take a doctor down when he’s only begun to save lives.
I found the personal side more interesting, I remember a SpR in A&E saying to me once “I never cry at work but 24 hours in A&E always gets to me”. His wife who writes the “afterword” that he was boyishly hopeful throughout his disease and he would be in the minority who would be cured, losing his more rational mind. I flit between being hopeful as treatment has started very well, to then fearing I’ve forgotten I’m seriously unwell.
In one chapter Hitchen’s says everyone can be a writer as long as they’ve learnt to speak. His argument as far as I could see he felt many people don’t say anything interesting just a lot of stock phrases. On that bombshell I’ll conclude. His aim is always to write as if he’s directly talking at the reader and he succeeds.