Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tom Disch's wake

Over last weekend, Jacob went to New York to attend Thomas Disch's wake. Jacob's photos are up on Flickr. Here's what John Crowley, one of Disch's closest friends, had to say:

A small memorial gathering for Tom Disch at the house of Alice Turner in Manhattan. A fuller description can be found at the site of Scott Edelman (scottedelman ). It was moving in many ways: Tom's Minnesota relatives were there, one of whom remarked that they had known he was a respected writer but not how admired he was by his fellows in the trade. Dana Gioia (late of the NEA) recited a rather lengthy poem of Tom's that I doubt he had actually memorized -- it seemed to be one of those perfect ones that just slips into the memory after a few readings and a few reviews to check a line or two. Richard and Christiana Sutor, who took pictures of Tom some years back, arrived with a sheaf of beautiful prints -- many of them the pictures that made it into the Locus memorial article -- Tom at his most dashing, cigar, bow tie, sweet devilish grin. One of the childhood pictures that Tom's family brought was one of Tom in -- I'd guess -- the second grade, dressed in a cassock and beretta (the liturgical hat not the gun) for a grade school pageant. Attached to this was a neatly typed, remarkably elegant and equally remarkably smarmy tribute to the Virgin Mary and the flowers of May, her month, that apparently young Tom recited at the pageant. It soulnded like he could have written it too, with that astonishing conviction he brought to the writing and speaking of oleaginous falsity. A sure sign of the writer to come.

I too played a priest in the second grade: the kindergarten at St. Michael's in Brattleboro Vermont, held a mock graduation in June, all the kids in cap and gown,and the diplomas handed out by me as Monsignor Rand (purple sash and pompom on the beretta) and my friend Terry Rabideau (who later became a priest) as Father Murray. Monsignor Rand was enamored of altar boys, and at high mass used to have a little parade of them come out in cassock and surplice and ring the altar, just to stand and kneel and take Communion and look nice. Oh dear. Tom's brother said they had, but did not bring, the pageant program, the last credit being "Thomas Disch: The Priest."


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