Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens Dies at 62

Author, journalist and bon vivant Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The cause of death was pneumonia, a complication of the esophageal cancer he was diagnosed with in 2010, just after the debut of his memoir, Hitch-22.

Vanity Fair, where Hitchens had been a contributing editor since 1992, offered up a beautiful, if brief, memoriam within a few hours of the writer’s death:
“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else -- just as he had been for the last four decades.
The Guardian was also swift to offer up a stately obituary:
Writing in his 2010 memoir, Hitch-22, Hitchens said that he hoped and believed his "advancing age has not quite shamed my youth", disavowing the "'simple' ordinary propositions" of his younger days in favour of the maxim that "it is an absolute certainty that there are no certainties".

"One reason, then, that I would not relive my life," he continued, "is that one cannot be born knowing such things, but must find them out, even when they then seem bloody obvious, for oneself."
Hitchens’ bestselling books included Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens; God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything; Thomas Jefferson: Author of America and many, many others.

Even though we greeted the news of his death without surprise, the world will be a less interesting place without his keen observances and intelligently cynical voice.



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