Repost: CH having health issues?

June 24, 2010

Update: Hitchens spotted in D.C. Sunday night. Link here.
At reddit.com there are comments on Hitchens having breathing issues at the airport.
This would explain the latest event cancellations.
Twelve Publishers has removed his upcoming appearances this summer from their site. (The one left, June 28, is cancelled as well).
The Luncheon Society has been told by the publisher: He has a personal issue that requires his attention.

69 comments:

Tom said...

Why leave the L.A event in the tour schedule? Weird.

Tarn said...

This is just surreal- what's going on?

Xenophrenia said...

Is anyone going to this event? Will it be recorded? .... It's pretty high profile if Sean Penn is in attendance which may explain why it's still on the schedule. He may be adamant about attending that one but I seriously hope we hear something from someone who attends this at least. The fact that they have cleared the whole schedule does not look good.

It could be anything actually. We may never actually know ... I hate not knowing ... but honestly it's not really any of our business if he doesn't want it to be is it?

Someone had mentioned his scoffing us 'praying' for him. I personally had not said anything of the sort - but that does not mean I cannot wish him well and hope that things turn out okay for him does it?

Thanks Tom for keeping us informed as best you can ...

Anonymous said...

You're right Xeno. We don't have a right to know what's going on. Even so, I'm concerned, and I would like to be assured that the "personal" reason isn't a life threatening health condition. I admire him greatly, and if anything happened to him, I would be very sad indeed. The world needs him.

Anonymous said...

Hitch did an article for Slate this Monday so it can't be too serious (I hope...)

Tom said...

Could it be another family member? But then there are the reddit comments?

Mark G said...

Slate article could've been ghost written.

Anonymous said...

"Slate article could've been ghost written."

Yes, of course. Hitchens is dead and or dying, all reasonable, rational evidence to the contrary be damned, cause, well, what's the point of the Internet if not for spreading lies, conpiracies, and paranoia?

angrysoba said...

Well could I at least repost this here? It took me a lot of time and effort and I'll be damned if my most perspicacious insights aren't accorded the respect to which other people are accustomed and end up deleted:

Look, as has been pointed out he is almost certainly not at Death's door. If he were he wouldn't have written his Slate piece this week.

Yes, yes, I know it has been objected that he sometimes writes his pieces weeks or months in advance but that could hardly be the case here when he is writing a story on the very recent news (that is to say it is news to us if only ostensibly news to the Pentagon - ahem!) story that Afghanistan is rich beyond anyone's wildest dreams and a couple of links goes to stories that are dated 18th June which is after the reports that he was having breathing difficulties at the airport and after the first cancelled talk which was, if I remember correctly, 17th June.

So, everyone relax a bit, pour yourselves a drink, have a smoke and adopt a concerned but stoic air rather than a faintly, er... cloying hysteria. You'll only feel a little embarrassed later when Hitchens returns blustering, "Prayed for me? You prayed for me? What else did you do? Slaughter a goat?"

angrysoba said...

Oh, and the "prayed for me" thingy is not a dig at anyone here it is something I thought a few people would already have picked up on as a Daniel Dennett line after he went into hospital.

angrysoba said...

Mark G: Slate article could've been ghost written.

As in written by Christopher Hitchens' ghost?

Ha ha! Quite good. Did you mean that?

Tom said...

FGFM, L and everyone else, stick to the topic.

L said...

"FGFM, L and everyone else, stick to the topic."

Yes, Sir. I will endeavour to do so, and thank you kindly for your hitherto most gracious hospitality.

(Thing is, though: FGFM is actually a touch autistic, and generally confused as to what the topic actually is: just keep an eye out for his wild non-sequiters; they may seem like deliberate provocations on his part, but, in sad truth, they are just how his paranoid ginger-nut perceives the world).

Right, topic: I'm sure Hitchens is generally OK, and not being a celebrity as such, isn't overly concerned with keeping his fans involved and up-to-date on his personal issues. He wrote his column, as angrysoba noted, and has dates organised for the not-so-distant future, so he's probabilistically at risk of succumbing to a falling piano or a disgruntled ginger-on-a-rampage or acute and sudden malaise at his fairly usual levels.

Fret not (or at least do it less cloyingly, please).

Mike said...

Hitchens's Slate piece could not have been written weeks before it was posted. His first, and last-minute, cancellation was on June 16, and in Slate he references news articles published on June 17 and 18. Perhaps he is dealing with an issue unrelated to his own health. A better guess, I think, is that he's getting some bed rest while managing to do just a bit of writing. It'll be interesting to find out exactly what has been going on.

angrysoba said...

Hitchens's Slate piece could not have been written weeks before it was posted. His first, and last-minute, cancellation was on June 16, and in Slate he references news articles published on June 17 and 18.

Hellooooooooo! What am I? Chopped liver?

Mark G said...

Hitchens in bed, dictating his Slate article to an accommodating Squeaky. That's just gross.

Tom said...

I'm thinking of the 'moderate comments' option at the moment. At least for a while. I wonder why?

Mike said...

Thanks Tom. I hope you will choose that option soon.

L said...

Yes, indeed. Sincere apologies for sullying your site like this. It is ever so rude of me.

Come on FGFM, old friend, do let's take our feet down off the table, wash up our glasses, and kindly leave these good folk alone and slug it out over here instead:

http://angrysoba.blogspot.com/2010/06/quote-of-day.html

I mean, there is an entire thread dedicated to what an immortal arse you are, it would be a shame to waste it.

RC said...

I'm scheduled to go to the LA public library event - if it still happens - so will report.

Moderator: it's really tiring to have to wade through all the non-relevant verbiage on this thread. No one reads it. Dump it.

Xenophrenia said...

Just a reminder - DON'T feed the trolls. Though I get the impression there are 2 trolls playing off of each other. Often, if you ignore them they will go away ; ) .. but not always.

Just as an aside on the minerals article - since Christopher works for a rather large magazine there may have been buzz about this before it broke. There is also the fact that this is not actually a 'new' story. The existence of these deposits has been around for some time.

Also - just because he's writing (not a physically strenuous activity) doesn't mean something serious isn't going on. Especially someone like him. I imagine he would have no problem throwing some words together around a subject that is actually old news. So the fact that he wrote an article may indicate he's coherent - but not that he isn't seriously ill ... just some thoughts on the subject.

I throw in a vote for moderation ... it's a pain in the ass I agree but it does greatly improve conversation. I don't think it would be needed very often because these people 'seem' like they might be somewhat reasonable and may improve with removal hanging over their heads.

Hope we hear something soon and everything's okay.

Regards ....

PS - Thank you RC - will return for the news.

L said...

Actually, I myself wouldn't be against moderated, or vetted, comments. It does slow things down, but it does, as said, clean things up quite a bit.

I do apologise again, being at least 50% responsible for the dross, but I really can't help myself when it comes to that guy. But I'll try.

FGFM said...

Try harder.

Tom said...

I removed the non-relevant comments to this topic. I hope we don't need to have comments moderated but it's coming if this nonsense goes on.

Mark G said...

See Tom. I hate moderating comments, but sometimes people just get way out of hand...to the point where you feel like a thread is being sabotaged and more relevant comments are being pushed out of the way.

That being said, I don't think anyone should be banned. If you keep moderating a certain annoying person, they'll usually get the message.



I know angrysoba thought it was a good joke, but I did not intend it as he interpreted it. I meant simply that someone else could've written the Slate article for him. This goes on in the journalism business more than you'd think. I know a few journalists who have already shown that they can imitate the man's style and opinions very closely. More likely, he dictated a general broad idea for the piece and said, 'go to it, young man'.

However, aside from the Slate article, what rational, reasonable evidence is there that Hitchens is okay? It seems that most of the evidence we have is that he is NOT okay. Whether it will prove fatal is a stretch, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. Plenty of men younger than he with healthier lifestyles have died suddenly.

RC said...

There's no real evidence for anything right now. All we have is a second-hand eyewitness report, and who knows about the article?

One thing I can infer, though, is that, judging from the publisher website which leaves only one event standing, he's poorly but life-threateningly so.

RC said...

NOT life-threateningly so, I meant to say.

L said...

Is he obliged to reveal anything? The sixty-year old gentleman in question collapsed on a plane, after a grueling schedule, cancelled some, though not all of his speaking engagements, but continued to meet his journalistic deadlines.

We all do wish him well, but this lusting after further information is a touch unseemly.

He's not dead and it's unlikely he's dying. He comes from a pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter generation, so status updates and constant, nay, incessant divulgement, especially of personal issues, which he has always been loathe to reveal (his childless and wifeless memoirs, for example), are perhaps not to be taken as signs of the worst, let alone even expected in the first place.

Lean back, pandiculate, and do let's generally allow this over-earnest atmosphere of death-bed solemnity to dispell until justified, and even then, well, I'll just wait until then.

Mark G said...

pandiculate? What's with your habit of unnecessarily using obscure words? Especially on a blog. It makes it seem like you're trying too hard to impress us. Well, it's not impressive. It's insecure.

I disagree that Hitch's health isn't a serious and real issue. For one thing, it's an unprecedented development: this has never happened to him before. He has never cancelled appearances like this, so something is clearly up.

Anonymous said...

This is a tricky way to begin a conversation but the thing needs to be settled from the start: what is it about John Banville which causes some folk to grimace at the very mention of his name? Here he is at 64, his international status glowing, a Man Booker winner of 2005 vintage for The Sea, and his every work before and since deemed vital to review. Is it his obvious erudition that annoys: that elegant, finely wrought prose which has readers gasping for air and, not infrequently, the dictionary?

Ah, the dictionary. He seizes the word, and one senses the imminence of a Banvillean surge. “The dictionary is a wonderful book and people should be sent to it regularly,” he says. “Do you know, when you get up in the morning and you stretch and you yawn, there’s a word for it? Not a beautiful word, not one that trips lightly from the pen, but a marvellous word: pandiculation. Isn’t that wonderful? So now, when you yawn and stretch, you’re pandiculating.”

Tom said...

I still wouldn't rule out another family member.

Freddy said...

I hope Hitch is alright. Obviously there is something going on which is none of my business but I wish our fellow primate well.

Mike said...

The Reddit commentator said he was on a flight to "Europe." His ex-wife and both of his children were in England, last I read. The reported airport sighting coincided perfectly with his withdrawal from the book tour, but he should have been flying to Boston at that time, not overseas. It seems highly improbable (but not impossible) that he could have had a stressful family emergency that triggered a medical emergency.

Mark G said...

"I still wouldn't rule out another family member."

What do you mean?

Mark G said...

But Hitchens was taken off the plan in a stretcher. Isn't that pretty good evidence that there is something wrong with HIM? What evidence is there to suggest a family member has a problem? Anyway, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mark,

If I was your editor, I would have chosen to emphasise it thus:

"There is SOMETHING wrong with him?"

Good luck with your journalism.

Heywood Jeblome said...

Keep us informed!

Mark G said...

If I was your editor, I would have chosen to emphasise it thus:

"There is SOMETHING wrong with him?"

It's a good think you're not my editor.

Anonymous said...

I disagree: you're in need of a good think.

Mark G said...

yeah yeah, thing not think. that part i'll let you edit.

Xenophrenia said...

Mark - the taken off of the plane was someone's FB ... not exactly rock solid reliable ... possible but not 100% definite. Just saying ... could be unrelated to the cancellations as well ... there are far to many unknowns for anything to be something other than speculation at this point unfortunately. We must be careful how we view sources of information if we want that information to be accurate ...

Xenophrenia said...

Oh - and the one appearance left on the list ... now shows up canceled on the events website ... http://www.lfla.org/event-detail/476/An-Evening-with-Christopher-Hitchens

Mike said...

The fact that Hitchens began cancelling events right at the time of the reported airport incident lends credence to the story. But I'm sure most of us assumed the detail about his being on a Europe-bound plane was mistaken, because he was scheduled to go to Boston at that time. I was only speculating on what the implications would be if both of the main details of the Reddit comment -- that he was carried off a plane on a stretcher and that it was a trans-Atlantic flight -- were accurate. If it really is his own health, and not a family emergency, I'm sure we'll eventually learn the facts. Hitchens is protective of his family but candid about himself.

Tom said...

There is no evidence that a family member has problems. I was only speculating. That's what happens when there are no facts or evidence, people speculate and throw in suggestions. The only fact now is cancelled tour dates until the end of June. The rational thing would be just to wait but then we'd have only one comment on this post, "We have to wait for more info" and people would just nod their heads.

It doesn't sound like a trivial matter if he knows, what, a week before, that he's not going to attend an event.

Mike said...

Agreed on all points.

Rodney Ulyate said...

Are we certain that Hitchens is himself responsible for the links in his Slate essays? I recall his having shown ignorance somewhere of the workings of Wikipedia, while in his memoir we find that to describe him as "a techno peasant would be to say the least of it." Could it not all be the doing of an industrious subeditor?

Mike said...

Good point about the links, Rodney. Rereading the piece, I can see he doesn't actually make reference to any particular article or event after the 16th in his own words -- just a general statement about the discovery of mineral wealth already being downplayed as a possible force-multiplier of Afghanistan's problems, a statement which might have been prompted by writings or statements other than the linked-to article. Perhaps it was written before the 16th.

Anonymous said...

It's Orwell's birthday today.

Mark G said...

"The only fact now is cancelled tour dates until the end of June."

That may be the only concrete fact, but we do have I believe multiple first hand accounts of Hitch having breathing problems at an airport. And the timing would suggest the likelihood of the two events being connected (the cancellations and the breathing problems).

The one report about him being taken off a trans-atlantic flight could've simply been confused. Perhaps it appeared he was taken off the same flight as the guy who reported it, but maybe he was actually preparing to board a separate flight. Of course, if he were flying domestic, he probably would've been in a different terminal altogether. I tend to doubt the FB post altogether. But the more generic reports of Hitch simply having breathing problems at an airport seem more plausible.

Tom said...

July 8 Houston, Texas, is cancelled.
http://www.brazosbookstore.com/event/author-appearance-christopher-hitchens
There goes the entire book tour. How long do we have to wait for info?

Rodney Ulyate said...

"[M]ultiple first hand accounts," Mark? "[M]ore generic reports"? I thought we had just the one. Mind linking?

L said...

"The one report about him being taken off a trans-atlantic flight could've simply been confused. Perhaps it appeared he was taken off the same flight as the guy who reported it, but maybe he was actually preparing to board a separate flight. Of course, if he were flying domestic, he probably would've been in a different terminal altogether. I tend to doubt the FB post altogether. But the more generic reports of Hitch simply having breathing problems at an airport seem more plausible."

I never thought I'd have to say this, Mark, but you're thinking too much.

Mike said...

Well, at least Ethan Epstein of True/Slant is finally doing a little bit of reporting. He now says Hitchens's home phone in Washington has been continuously busy for the past hour. Perhaps we'll get some info shortly.

Tom said...

Author Christopher Hitchens’ publicist has informed True/Slant that “travel is impossible right now for personal reasons,” but that Hitchens is eager to get back on the “circuit and will be doing so soon.”

Doesn't sound too bad

Anonymous said...

What will survive of us is love...

Anonymous said...

Hopefully he is ok. Looks like its temporary.
On the plus side there is a chance to catch up with all the recent videos. There have been many.

Tarn said...

Possible heart attack? Sounds like some kind of health scare...He might need to cut back on the ciggs and alchohol..I can't imagine he has a healthy diet...I hope he is okay...At least he seems to be alive, albiet not up and about..

Anonymous said...

I suppose this is as good a time as any to remind oneself of one of the old Hitchens classics:

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/hitchens/2003/08/why-i-dont-do-diets.html

Do remember that you don't judge the quality of a rope by its length.

Fond, secular, and best wishes to the old horse.

Anonymous said...

Whatever it is, it's got to be pretty serious for him, of all people, to have canceled the tour. This isn't Paris Hilton we're talking about.

Anonymous said...

In his "Why I Don't Do Diets" essay, Christopher Hitches asks if the clientele of health-food restaurants did "always look so pale and ill and scrawny and pustular?"

I have to say that he himself has been looking pretty pale and ill recently (though more swollen than scrawny).

For a rationalist and a believer in evidence, Hitchens should really quit pretending his terrible health habits aren't likely to have consequences.

If he's ill, I hope he gets well soon.

Anonymous said...

The Hitch spotted at Cafe Milano last night.

Mike said...

Here's the item on the Cafe Milano sighting:

http://washingtonscene.thehill.com/in-the-know/36-news/4867-michael-jordan-eats-out-in-georgetown

Xenophrenia said...

Thank you for the update - this is good to see ...

Xenophrenia said...

Oh boy - looks like the media has picked up on the Christopher Hitchens story ... fully understand why they kept it under wraps. Could have knocked a lot of wind out of sails though if they had come out with the real story instead of letting everyone tell their own version ... sigh.

Xenophrenia said...

Well - seems we now why Christopher canceled his appearances - seems he has cancer of the esophagus ... get well Christopher - your continued existence is valued by many.

Anonymous said...

Press release: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2010/06/an-update-from-christopher-hitchens.html

Xenophrenia said...

What I have read among the comments on Huffington Post from people who have know others with this type of cancer .... the fact that he speaks of chemotherapy and not surgery says a great deal. This is late stage and outlook is far from promising. I have no words for this ... I hope I'm wrong. I just hope I'm wrong.

Mike said...

Yes, I just read about this on the Washington Post's "Reliable Source" page. Terrible news. I'm very sad.

joseph s said...

Mr Hitchens! You signed my guitar in chicago, and i came too late after to offer you a light.My student Allison got your opus God is Not Great added to this years current events ciriculum at her high school! After she wrote a viscous essay on religion after i gave her your book her teachers were both impressed and concerned.One of the teachers decided to check the book out and ended up reading it all in 2 days and is crazy about it. She came saying today that there is now a shelf filled with 15 copies!

 
 
 

Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir