I had been thinking I wanted to read a book of Christopher Hitchen's. After all, we apparently, according to my dentist, shared a dentist in Menlo Park. So I went to the library and the most inviting one was small and black and had one of those one-word titles so popular at the moment: Mortality. I knew he'd died, not long ago, and not at 104 or something, like a lot of people these days (have you noticed that if you are flying on Delta and they offer you a drop-down box from which to choose your age, one of the categories is '100+'?) but at 60-something.

But I also know he is revered for his wit and writing and his contentiousness, and I like all these things. 

Still when I opened it just now and found that chapter one began with a terminal cancer diagnosis I hesitated. I thought it might bring me bad luck. I was superstitious.