cover image Mortality


Christopher Hitchens, read by Simon Prebble. Hachette Audio, unabridged, two CDs, 2 hrs., $22.98 ISBN 978-1-61969-188-9

In June 2010, journalist and author Christopher Hitchens was touring the U.S. to promote his memoir Hitch-22 when he suffered from the first symptoms of what would ultimately be diagnosed as esophageal cancer. Until his death in December 2011, Hitchens would continue to write about politics, culture, and his terminal illness. Adapted from a series of Vanity Fair columns, the author’s last book turns his acidic insights toward his own emotions as he copes with inevitability: “Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed to write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?” Narrator Simon Prebble turns in a fine performance. Yet, it’s incongruous to hear Hitchens’s incisive words without the authenticity and strength of his voice. As a speaker, Hitchens was magnetic and it’s doubtful that any performer, no matter how strong, could truly capture the force of his presence. Perhaps appropriately, this audio edition, written but not read by Hitchens, simply feels incomplete. A Twelve hardcover. (Sept.)