Find your own voice

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diagnosed with a cancer that has virulently attacked his vocal cords, Christopher Hitchens continues to provoke, instruct, and elevate with his pieces, especially those he writes for Vanity Fair. In the June issue, in a piece entitled "Unspoken Truths," Hitchens reflects on the physical loss of his voice and the ineffable craft that is the making of a writer's voice. I teach writerly voice. I care about it. I read, then, with great interest.

The whole is so worth reading. Here's a part:
To a great degree, in public and private, I "was" my voice. All the rituals and etiquette of conversation, from clearing the throat in preparation for the telling of an extremely long and taxing joke to (in my younger days) trying to make my proposals more persuasive as I sank the tone by a strategic octave of shame, were innate and essential to me. I have never been able to sing, but I could recite poetry and quote prose and was sometimes even asked to do so. And timing is everything: the exquisite moment when one can break in and cap a story, or turn a line for a laugh, or ridicule an opponent. I lived for moments like that.



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