R.I.P. Thomas Disch
Word has reached us that Thomas Disch made the decision to leave this world on Independence Day. His last several years had been troubled, ever since the death of his long-time partner, Charles Naylor. I’m sure that there will be a lot of words written about him over the next few weeks and my pitiful few won’t be anywhere near what he deserves
I think the first book I read by Disch was Camp Concentration, when I was in junior high school. It was one of the first s novels I’d read that dealt with politics and had a distinctly dystopian vision. Quite a change from the Heinlein and Andre Norton juveniles I’d been reading and pretty heavy stuff for a 14 year old. I almost immediately went out and found Echo Round His Bones, which I also enjoyed. Disch wrote prose like the poet he was, and his use of language was one of the things that made his fiction so resonant for me. I wasn’t a big fan of spin-off novels, but when I saw that Disch had written a Prisoner novel, I snatched that up as well. His output wasn’t huge, and there are only 16 novels (a 17th, The Word of God is awaiting publication) spread over his career, as well as 10 poetry collections, a few novella (one of which, The Brave Little Toaster, won multiple awards and spawned a series of Disney films), and around a dozen collections of short stories.
I never had the chance to meet him, and apparently his last few years contained a lot of bitterness and gall at the world that took his love and was trying to take his living space from him. He kept a LiveJournal blog active for the last couple of years, and it’s filled with poetry interspersed with rants against those he felt had done him wrong. It’s sad that, for some, that’s how he’ll be remembered. I prefer to think of the Midwestern salesman’s son who moved to New York and found himself in writing.