Of all the obituaries coming out in the wake of Tom Disch’s suicide, the New York Times version seems the most interesting, with a laudatory and evenhanded assessment of Disch’s achievements in all of the various genres he tackled. It’s not often you see an obit with quotes from David Pringle and Dana Gioia. When I was in grad school, a professor of mine suggested that we’re more comfortable with heroes and geniuses when they’re dead and we can offer our praise without worrying about what the subject of our adoration might have to say about it. Disch seems to be one more sad instance of that comfort. He was a writer’s writer, that’s for sure. I remember the way 334 and On Wings of Song blew me away when I was a teenager.
Another death to report, of no literary merit but deep personal relevance, is the passing of Tiger Stadium.
Actually, I guess there’s a little literary relevance too, since I can’t be the only person who has set scenes (in “Agent Provocateur” and The Narrows) in the old ballpark.