The essayist Christopher Hitchens is battling esophageal cancer, and like most fighting that battle, appears to be losing: he calls this “the year of living dyingly.” His writing on his encounters with the disease have been morbidly funny and heartfelt. I recently came across an article he published in June of this year. It is online at Vanity Fair, and not to be missed. It discusses his loss of speech due to vocal cord paralysis, which in Hitchens’s hands becomes a passport to a wide-ranging discussion of the linkage between oral and written language, poetry, music, and human mortality.
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