Friday, July 18, 2008
Two weeks ago, American author Thomas Disch took his life in his New York apartment. He was 68 years old. Although there were many obituaries written in the time that has followed, for quite a few of us in our thirties and younger, Disch and his best-regarded works, such as 1968's Camp Concentration, had become quite obscure. Although I had heard of him, I really didn't know much about him and kept putting off buying this book until after his tragic suicide. I am kicking myself for not having done so sooner, because this is a book that hits so many of my "sweet spots" as a reader.
This will not be a formal review, as I am not writing any of those until I finish with the one I agreed to write for another venue (soon, though, I'll be able!....I think). I will not elaborate on length how scary the milieu is, how easy it was for the governmental agencies to start influencing events, or how people were treated like guinea pigs and given a fatal drug that temporarily increased their mental capacities for concentration. Nor will I cite passages written in a first person PoV detailing Louis Sacchetti's thoughts and his progress throughout the novel. No, not this time, although this is a book that begs for such citations to be given out for others to be drawn to it. Neither will I spend much time elaborating on Disch's strengths as a prose writer and how darkly beautiful the prose was in places, as that would mean I would be breaking my promise to myself not to review a work at length before I finish this lengthy one I'm working on.
But suffice to say, if I had written all of this out, there would be many here who would want to read this book and to go out and buy it. Or perhaps they would re-read it. Nevertheless, I'm hoping I left just enough hints here for you to be curious enough to go out and read Camp Concentration in the very near future.