Here's a little more info on this one following my posting in "Latest Finds":
Thomas Disch Getting Into Death And Other Stories Pocket Book paperback edition, March 1977 (apparently, the hardback was first published by Alfred A Knopf in 1976)
Contents: Apollo The Asian Shore The Birds The Colors Death And The Single Girl Displaying the Flag Feathers From The Wings of an Angel Getting Into Death The Joycelin Shrager Story Let Us Quickly Hasten to the Gate of the Ivory The Master of the Milford Altarpiece The Persistence of Desire The Planet Arcadia Quincunx Slaves Vote Yes
Blurb from back cover: In this astonishing panorama of great reading, you'll meet a writer of best-selling Gothics who waits for death and finds comfort in forbidden things .. the great god Apollo in modern garb, making the Greenwich Village scene .. a lonely office temp who summons Death - who arrives with a bottle of Almaden and a macabre request .. a scholar in Istanbul haunted by a strange woman and her child ..
Anyone else read this? I won't have time to read it for a while and to comment on the stories. If anyone else has read it, some comments would be great (I might not read them myself though - spoilers!)
Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 11, 2008 15:04:44 GMT
Your enthusiasm for this intrigues me, Caroline. The only work of Mr Disch's I can claim to have read is his 'novelisation' of The Prisoner. I always thought of him as an SF author, but a quick google reveals that he was much more than that - and rather tragically committed suicide a few months ago after what seems like an extraordinary run of bad luck.
Yes, you're right, Franklin, he did tragically end his own life just a couple of months ago after never really getting over the death of his partner I believe.
I must admit, the only other of his works I've read is the novel "The Businessman". I picked it up in a charity shop a couple of years ago - having never heard of him before (probably because he is better known for his SF). It was one of those books I just couldn't put down - very strange, and absolutely intriguing! It made me want to find more books by him, but I never really found anything else of interest (again, probably because most is SF!).
But I'm more of a short story person than a novels one, and I also have a thing about signed books. I kept looking out for books signed by him - but only managed to find a book of poetry (blah, I hate poetry!) - at a really silly price. When he died, of course, I thought I'd never get the opportunity to get something signed by him at an affordable price. So when I saw this one - both signed AND short stories - I couldn't resist! I've no idea what the stories are like - might be SF or not? But I'm looking forward to getting the chance to find out anyway, and delighted to have managed to add him to my signed books collection too. This feels and looks like one of those books I'm really going to treasure. ;D
BTW I think Sean is a fan of Disch's work - he's recently done a review of one of his SF things in Pantechnicon. Sean also recommended another novel - "The MD" - to me as being even weirder than "The Businessman", but I've yet to try that one. Sean might be able to give us more info about Disch and his work when he gets back online ..
Boo! Some sort of internet acess resumed (if you can call a crappy wireless broadband pay as you go package in a weak signal area 'internet access' - I'd be better off with a bit of string and a f**k**g yoghurt carton blu-tacked to the back of the 'puter).
I've only encountered three or four of the stories in this collection, but judging from the other books I've bumped into ('The Man Who Had No Idea', 'Under Compulsion', '102 H Bombs') your'e probably in for a very odd mix of SF, horror, literature and disquieting ideas, all produced with an emotional distance some people find quite hard to enjoy. Disch's writing style was pretty consistent whatever he wrote, so if 'The Businessman' was enjoyable, the rest of his stuff probably will be to.
Anyway, even when there are elements of SF present, they are usually handled in a very individual way, very rarely going in the direction you might expect.
Disch's horror novels are all a treat, the best of which I'd certainly go for 'The MD' - (the scene with the frozen decapitated head being defrosted in a microwave - best not to ask - is an absolute gem). 'The Businessman' is freaky, written in such a way that you don't quite at first notice how much mayhem is actually taking place. I'm surprised 'The Priest' didn't land him in trouble with its story of insane religious types, anti-abortion hysteria, former alter boys out for revenge and a Whitley Streiber-like character (Disch seems to have loathed him - he gave W.S one hell of a kicking in various reviews and articles). 'The Sub' is also worth seeking out, dealing with witchcraft and shapechanging, amongst other things.
Earlier this year I accidentally ordered one of Disch's poetry collections from the 80's, 'Burn This' and it was pretty good. Some of the ones he published on his blog were pretty grim and gloomy though, I thought.
Earlier this year I accidentally ordered one of Disch's poetry collections from the 80's ...
... and now you've got me wondering how you managed to "accidentally order" something! Hmmm, might have to try that one the next time hubby moans about me buying another book: "Sorry, dear, I accidentally ordered it - it wasn't deliberate, honest!"
>> 'The Businessman' is freaky, written in such a way that you don't quite at first notice how much mayhem is actually taking place.
I got to thinking about your comment above. That's what I enjoyed so much about his writing in that book. It starts out so "normal" with an ordinary suburban setting, but it's written in such a way that you never really notice the point at which things start getting really weird. In doing that, he makes the strange so utterly believable. Superb writing! ;D