Monday, October 22, 2012

Recommended Reading

Back in the late 1960s, Thomas M. Disch published a weirdly prescient little short story called "Displaying the Flag. The story has been mostly forgotten, although it recently received some small attention when it appeared on David Foster Wallace's "required reading list."

The story is about a closeted leather queen named Leonard Dworkin, who undergoes hypnosis therapy to rid himself of his inconvenient "aberration."

The therapy is successful, but is soon replaced by another even more aberrant  behavior: he becomes a wing nut, of the conservative variety. The story is funny and scary, in equal doses.

When the story was first published it was read as broad satire. Today, it seems all too real.

Disch, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2008, was one of our finest writers of science fiction, horror, and social satire. A few of his books are still in print, notably his remarkable six part novel, 334

"Displaying the Flag" is collected in Getting Into Death and Other Stories. The book is out-of-print, but easily available at secondhand booksellers. The collection also contains the stunning novelette "The Asian Shore."

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