It is with horror that I read this morning that Thomas Disch - poet and author of brilliant works - committed suicide on the Fourth of July.
Disch was openly gay since 1968 and his partner for 20 years was the poet Charles Naylor.
This obit isn't just about the loss of Disch, however. It's about something else: it's motivated. See, Disch lost his partner in 2004 and it was a travesty in its own way; insufficient health care, which Disch had been already bitching about for decades, was a significant factor. He suffered badly from a kind of PTSD due to 9/11, and he himself was unable to get appropriate treatment. And finally, after his partner's death, he lost their home in Philadelphia and was being evicted from their apartment in NYC.
Disch became cruel and erratic after 9/11, ranting about Muslims and immigrants. He was no saint, although some may love him like one for The Brave Little Toaster. He was, however, clearly mentally disturbed and - like the characters in his infamous 334 - in the end, died for the NuMerican sin of Not Being Able to Get Health Care because Our Country is Fucked in the Head. Michael Swanwick's comment on the subject was, "Even if he had to commit suicide, he shouldn't have had to worry about being evicted."
I want to close this obit with a description of him posted on the Amazon website, because it says in brief so much:
Thomas M. Disch is the author of such diverse publications as The Prisoner, The Dreams Our Stuff are Made Of, Camp Concentration, and The Brave Little Toaster. A renowned poet and book critic, Disch's review, criticism, and essays have been published in The Nation, Harper's, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Weekly. He has received the John W. Campbell and O'Henry awards and the Pushcart Prize. Disch has a forthcoming original novel, The Word of God, Or the Holy Writ Rewritten, coming out from Tachyon in July 2008. He divides his time between New York City and rural Pennsylvania.
Go in peace, Mr Disch. You are much loved and hated.