Christopher Hitchens had a strange June. His long-anticipated memoir, Hitch-22, hit libraries and bookstores. Within mere days of the memoir’s publication he was informed he has esophageal cancer, which subsequently reached his lymph nodes. Never one to shy away, Hitchens wrote a compelling piece, “Topic of Cancer” in September’s Vanity Fair, depicting his early struggles with chemotherapy. The piece wonderfully expresses the plurality of responding to cancer: fear, resilience, and vulnerability coexist for Hitchens as he continues treatment and sense-making.
Christopher Hitchens polarizes. His writings meld thought and disparate ideologies more eloquently and frustratingly than any writer I have read. The nimbleness of his writing and evolving beliefs reflect Bertrand Russell’s maxim: “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” Some might consider this assertion a sign of weakness. Hitchens’ career conveys the beauty within the assertion. His beliefs evolved as he aged. He constantly challenged his beliefs and made adjustments as he determined worthy. Whether you find Hitchens to be a buffoon or a genius, he has remained committed to mental engagement throughout his career. He is infuriating and prescient. Funny and provocative. If only we had more writers like him.
I wish Christopher Hitchens health and I look forward to his further chronicles of treatment.
Below are some of my favorite works by Christopher Hitchens.
Thomas Jefferson: Author of America
Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
A Long Short War: the Postponed Liberation of Iraq
Letters to a Young Contrarian