My relationship with the stories of Thomas M. Disch have been varied, but always interesting. From the strange work of hope that was The Brave Little Toaster (1980) to the incredibly thought provoking Camp Concentration (1968) and the creepy The Businessman: A Tale of Terror (1984).
Disch was really great at looking at the world through a new lens, although ON Wings of Song is clearly closer to the jaded world of Camp Concentration than the hopeful one of The Brave Little Toaster.
The Novel follows a young man called Daniel Weinreb, a youth in a future Iowa where music and free speech have been outlawed by local government. At the age of 14 Daniel is sent to prison which effectively sours him entirely on living in the Midwest. Setting his sights on New York, we follow Daniel throughout his life in this strange version of North America, one in which the government has draconian levels of control or simply ignores its citizens all together.
Much of the book focuses on "flying", a term used for astral projection that many people have access to, but is again, outlawed in many areas. As a story in which a young man from a small town attempts to make it in the big city, the story is fairly straightforward, but the interesting thing about Disch's world is just how strange and off everything seems.
I'm not actually sure if I can say I liked On Wings of Song - the story was definitely affecting, but it didn't resonate with me the same way Camp Concentration did. An interesting read, but not sure if it's one I'd want to revisit.
1 month ago