I’m a few days late on this, but due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve only just found out that the death roll for this year has been added to once again: Tom Disch took his own life on the 4th of this month.
Disch’s early work was compulsive reading when I first discovered it during my Uni years- Camp Concentration and 334 are wonderfully bleak and despairing works, and his short fiction was the same. I never felt that same concentrated burst of emotion from his later work, although The MD stood out purely for the level of craft, and later still he seemed to become almost exclusively a poet. Much of his last works are on display at his LJ: I find it mixed, and don’t connect with a great deal of it, but that’s the nature of poetry.
By all accounts Disch was a difficult person to know, and once crossed, you were never forgiven (witness his exultation at Algis Budry’s passing, mere weeks before his own). He was a writer who stood apart from the genre in which he worked: like Barry Malzberg he was scarred by his early experiences of SF people and SF publishing and was both articulate and unforgiving enough to let us all know of his dissatisfaction, and accurately, scarily, why it was so. Still, as much as he may have hated it, he was one of us, and losing him is significant.