writer and poet Thomas Disch has committed suicide. Disch
died July 4 and his body was discovered July 5, according to
the New York City Police Department. He was 68.
The author of
popular sci-fi novels Camp Concentration and
334, Disch had been openly gay since 1968.
Following the 2004 death of his partner, poet Charles
Naylor, Disch reportedly began suffering from depression.
honors for his fiction, including two O. Henry awards, the
genre-bending Disch also published more than a half dozen
books of poetry, a whimsical Child's Garden of
Grammar (1997); a history of speculative fiction,
The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of (1998); and
the Brave Little Toaster series for children.
Born in Des
Moines in 1940, Disch moved to New York City to study
architecture at New York University. A writing class in his
junior year intrigued him into trying pulp fiction; he
sold an early effort to Fantastic Stories for
$112.50, according to the Minnesota Historical
Society, and was hooked.
Holding a series
of classic authorial grunt jobs, including Metropolitan
Opera supernumerary and graveyard-shift newsman, Disch
eventually became part of science fiction's new wave,
which took advantage of the 1960s' freedom to take on
relevant topics in adult language and thereby gain
Though some of
his books, notably 334, derive from Disch's
experience as a gay man, he was rarely touted as a "gay
writer." "I was pleased when a book called The Gay
Canon included 'On Wings of Song'; I thought,
Well, finally! They seem to notice me,"
Disch told Strange Horizons' David Horwich in 2001.
posting 10 days before Disch's death illustrates his wry
humor as well as his pain:
mortal, soon to be in Heaven, I may be
your best chance
to distinguish yourself
specially Blessed and bound for Glory
without going to
a lot of trouble or expense ...
Start with a
little Tom My God shrine beside the BBQ
and before you
can say Glory Be the whole back yard
and all its
gardening tools are tax-deductible!
If your tax
returns are challenged, show this poem
to the judge and
ask him how many believers