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The Weekly Standard has posted online my obituary for the poet and science-fiction writer Tom Disch :

He sent me a note on July 2, just some jokey line about politics: nothing unusual, nothing portentous, nothing worth a call to see how he was feeling. Two days later, according to the news reports, he sat down in his New York apartment and put a gun to his head—a July 4 suicide, the noise of the shot lost in the crash of the fireworks above the East River.

I can picture it, unfortunately. Those ratty, rundown rooms in which he lived. The pistol he kept in gleeful defiance of the city’s gun laws. The prickly brilliance with which he thought himself down into a narrower and narrower trap. The cosseted ill-health and the limp. The endless self-conceit that confirmed even his despair as a great and cosmic thing: an arrogance against the universe, a point of deadly pride. “Here in old age,” he grandly announced when I saw him at lunch this spring, “I’ve finally decided that being a genius is enough for any man, and I’m just going to have to live with it.”

He couldn’t, of course, because it’s not enough: The mad brightness of his arrogance burned against a background blacker than the grave. But the truth is that Tom Disch really was a genius. There was nothing he couldn’t do with words . . . . [more]



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