Cover image for The M.D. : a horror story
The M.D. : a horror story
Disch, Thomas M.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1991.
Physical Description:
401 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Borzoi book."
Format :


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Author Notes

Thomas Disch was a popular & prolific poet, playwright, essayist, & novelist. He is the author of many works of science fiction & the poetry collections "Dark verses & Light" & "Yes, Let's: New & Selected Poems".

(Publisher Provided) Thomas M. Disch was born in Des Moines, Iowa on February 2, 1940. He dropped out of the architecture program at Cooper Union, and then left New York University after he sold a short story entitled The Double Timer. His first novel, The Genocides, was published in 1965. His other novels include The House That Fear Built, 334, The M.D., The Priest, The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten, and Clara Reeve written under the pseudonym Leonie Hargreave. He won several awards including the 1969 Ditmar Award for Camp Concentration, the O. Henry Award in 1975 for Getting into Death and in 1977 for Xmas, the 1980 John W. Campbell, Jr. Memorial Award for On Wings of Song, and the 1981 British Science Fiction Award for The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances.

He was also wrote poetry, opera librettos, plays, and criticism of theater, films and art. His collections of poetry include Here I Am, There You Are, Where Are We; The Dark Old House; Yes, Let's: New and Selected Poetry; and Dark Verses and Light. He won the 1999 biennial Michael Braude Award for Light Poetry for A Child's Garden of Grammar, the Locus and Hugo Awards for 1999 for The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World, and the Puschcart Prize for The First Annual Performance Art Festival at Slaughter Rock Battlefield. His criticism appeared in several publications including The Nation, The New York Daily News, and The New York Sun. In 1987, he wrote a script for the television series Miami Vice. He shot himself on July 4, 2008 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Subtitled ``A Horror Story,'' this chilling tale begins mid-century in placid St. Paul, Minn., where little Billy Michaels is visited by the god Mercury, who announces that the stick Billy holds, with the desiccated corpse of a sparrow tied to one end, is a caduceus, whose power to harm and heal can be triggered by any curse uttered in rhyme. Disch--poet, playwright, writer of SF, children's books, short stories and novels--follows Billy from his first experiences with the stick--healing nearby elm trees of Dutch elm disease, paralyzing his teenage stepbrother, turning his grandmother bald--into a life thoroughly corrupted by power. Though he cures his stepsister's anorexia, the child they conceive together returns in the story's apocalyptical, Boschian finale to orchestrate the mutilations and killings of other family members, all occuring in a world beset by a plague commanded by Billy-turned-William, now the head of a prospering medical research facility. As gruesome horrors accrue, Disch spares few of humanity's institutions in this splenetic, morally barren story, and the Catholic Church and the concept of family are particularly hard hit. BOMC alternate. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Endowed with the power to heal or destroy by the Roman god Mercury, Minnesota grade schooler Billy Michaels embarks on a strange lifelong journey. Spanning the early 1970s through 1999, this well-written horror novel takes Billy from childhood innocence and casual cruelty to adult greed and calculated evil. Mercury's gift to Billy is his staff, the caduceus--longtime symbol of the medical profession. Both the child Billy and later the physician William wield this serpentine instrument as one might a sorcerer's wand. A multitude of major and supporting characters, a good many subplots, plus much dark and wicked humor all contribute to the tale's success. By the author of the children's fantasy The Brave Little Toaster and several science fiction works, this lengthy adult entertainment is well suited for summer weekend reading. BOMC alternate.-- James B. Heme sath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.