Monday, July 07, 2008

The life of Thomas M. Disch

We are mourning the loss of Tom Disch, who was found dead in his apartment on July 5th, having committed suicide. We here at Tachyon would like to offer our condolences to Tom's family, friends, and fans.

Here are some of the obituaries.

Here is Tom's biography, which you can also download.

Thomas Michael Disch was born February 2, 1940, in Des Moines, Iowa. Enrolled in a succession of Catholic schools, he would develop, respectively, a love for classical music and opera, an opposition to the Catholic Church (seen regularly in his work), and a fascination for poetry and ballet. After moving to New York City in 1957, Thomas Disch enlisted in the army just before his eighteenth birthday. He promptly went AWOL, was sent to a combination prison and mental hospital, and luckily was fairly promptly discharged. Returning to New York City, he began evening classes at NYU. In 1962, instead of cramming for mid-terms, he wrote the short story "The Double Timer," which was promptly sold for $112.50. Disch never returned to NYU, and instead took odd jobs as an insurance claims adjuster, a bank teller, a mortuary attendant, and a proofreader and copy editor to support his burgeoning writing habit.

Disch's voracity for writing led him to an astonishing range of publications. He wrote science fiction (Camp Concentration, 334), horror/gothic (The Priest), children’s books (The Brave Little Toaster, A Child’s Garden of Grammar), poetry (Yes, Let’s: New and Selected Poems, Dark Verses and Light), book and theater reviews for The Nation, Harper's, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Weekly, poetry criticism (The Castle of Indolence: On Poetry, Poets, and Poetasters), media novelizations (The Prisoner), a computer game (Amnesia), and the libretto for an opera based on Frankenstein.

Amongst the awards Thomas Disch received were the Braude, Campbell, Ditmar, O’Henry, British Science Fiction, Hugo, Locus, and Campbell awards, as well as the Pushcart Prize. He was nominated for the National Book and the National Book Critic Circle awards. Disch lived in Mexico, Spain, England, and Rome, but for the last twenty years he lived mostly in New York City, where over the last few years he was a radio pundit and theater critic, and was recently working on new fiction and poetry projects.

Entering a newly prolific phase, Disch was slated to publish three books in 2008, including a recently released original novel, The Word of God (July 2008), which was his first new novel in nine years, and a short story collection, The Wall of America.

Thomas M. Disch was found dead in his apartment on July 5th, 2008, an apparent suicide. He was 68.

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