GETTING INTO DEATH: And Other Stories by Thomas M. Disch
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Thomas Disch like Ray Bradbury is initially associated with science fiction but is obviously not to be confined to one or two worlds and the title story in which a woman writer of mysteries and gothics is preparing herself for ""the loss of her ultimate cherry"" makes a by no means idle reference to Clara Reeves (his last summer secret success). ""Getting into Death"" is one of several marvelously funny stories as the lady lies in a hospital bed reading a few pages of Proust at a time, talking with several men of the cloth and her ultra-fat daughter, and is altogether taken in by a rabbi's fiction of another woman on her way out. Again Disch is at his comic best in ""Death and the Single Girl""--she dials him to come but then he's looking for life of a sort--""I come, and you go."" The opener is all chic caprice--modern variations of Apollo's loves; nice sentiment abounds in the story of two ducks, one who dies in a culvert of rats, the other who makes her first and last flight; in a brother and sister's search for their parents' grave in a cemetery (""more like a golf course"") where they get lost and loster; and in ""Feathers from the Wings of an Angel."" There's one pure sci-fi; and for a change of mood, the muffled menace of ""Asian Shore"" where a young teacher, turned off by the scabrous exoticism of Turkey, is haunted by the double images--or are they just hallucinatory superimpositions--of a woman and a child seen separately, seen together, seen on transparencies real or . . . ? Oh yes, not all of them work equally well. There's a little too much gamesmanship here and there and occasionally strange words obtrude--two ""sequent hour""s sequent in two successive stories. But what a free-falling talent--full of startling invention, humor, distancing surmise and many, many immediate pleasures.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Knopf