Bright Lights Film Journal

Thomas M. Disch (1940-2008)

Thomas M. Disch, who took leave of this world on July 4th, was one of our finest writers, an American Borges (for lack of a better comparison). What did he have to do with movies? Very little actually. However, he did love film, and he wrote a childrens’ book, The Brave Little Toaster, that inspired one animated feature (above) and two direct-to-video sequels. The genesis of The Brave Little Toaster was – I kid you not – a moment when Disch began to speculate on the inner lives of kitchen appliances.

When I think of Disch, I think of dry wit, keen intelligence, and perfect prose. He tackled several genres, starting with science fiction (The Puppies of Terra, Camp Concentration, 334), passing through the gothic and historical genres, and concluding with a series of contemporary horror novels (The Businessman, The M.D., The Priest, The Sub) after discovering they paid better. He also wrote poetry, criticism, and the libretto of an opera based on Frankenstein. His masterpiece (selected by Harold Bloom as one of the great American novels of the 20th Century) was the 1979 futuristic allegory, On Wings of Song.

Thanks to Bhob Stewart at Potrzebie for letting us know. See also Locus Online here.

Addendum 7/8 – Disch’s last work, The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten (published July 1, 2008), a meta-novel in which Disch imagines himself as God and Philip K. Dick as his spiritual nemesis, is reviewed by John Clute here. The L.A. Times’ obituary is here; the U.K. Guardian’s here.