Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thomas Disch 1940-2008

How to Behave when Dead

A notorious tease, he may pretend
not to be aware of you.
Just wait.
He must speak first. Then
you may begin to praise him.

Remember:
sincerity and naturalness
count for more than wit.
His jokes may strike you as
abstruse.
Only laugh if he does.

Gifts?
They say he's mad for art,
but whether in the melting
elegiac mode of, say, this
Vase of Poppies
or, turning the mirror
to his own face, a bronze skull
gorging on a snake --
that is a matter of taste.
In any case, the expense
is what he notices.

What to wear.
Some authorities
still insist on black.
But really, in this modern age,
your best is all that is required.

-- Tom Disch


Thomas Disch, novelist, poet, critic, playwright, and children's book author, is dead. He took his own life after a series of tragedies. NY Times obit here.

For me, discovering Disch was world altering. He expanded my horizons and expectations. From the not just for kids book, The Brave Little Toaster to his book on poetry The Castle of Indolence, one of the few books of criticism I have read and enjoyed for pleasure, I have enjoyed his writing for years. He taught me more about how to read with a critical ear than anyone else. His book on science fiction, The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World is a must read for all, even those who disdain the genre.

He will be missed. His blog is here.

2 comments:

Churlita said...

That's so sad. Hey, he was an Iowa native too. I didn't know that about him.

Dexter said...

I had forgotten that was from Des Moines until I read the obit.