Free eBook 334 download

by Thomas M. Disch

Free eBook 334 download ISBN: 0881843407
Author: Thomas M. Disch
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub (September 1, 1987)
Language: English
Pages: 269
Category: Fantasy
Subcategory: Science Fiction
Size MP3: 1897 mb
Size FLAC: 1935 mb
Rating: 4.5
Format: lrf azw txt mobi

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FREE shipping on qualifying offers. Number 334, the city street address of a place in which time pivots forward and backward, becomes the setting for a unique odyssey through human history.

Thomas Michael Disch (February 2, 1940 – July 4, 2008) was an American science fiction author and poet.

334 Thomas M. Disch Thomas M. Disch is the author of numerous novels, story collections, books of poetry . His most recent book is The Sub, published by Alfred A. Knopf. He lives in New York City and upstate New York. Disch is the author of numerous novels, story collections, books of poetry, criticism, children’s literature, libretti, and plays. A Division of Random House, Inc. New York.

Like most of Thomas Disch, this book is criminally underrated

Like most of Thomas Disch, this book is criminally underrated. It's a series of episodes centering around the same set of characters, living in a dystopian near-future New York City; it's hard to know whether to call it a loosely-structured novel, or a tightly integrated collection of short stories. The most natural comparison point is a movie like Short Cuts, Magnolia or Crash, with multiple intersecting story-lines and a big ensemble cast.

Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, In. New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in paperback in the United States by Avon Books, New York, in 1974.

The residents of the public housing project at 334 East 11th Street live in a world of rationed babies and sanctioned drug addiction. Real food is displayed in museums and hospital attendants moonlight as body-snatchers.

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Thomas M. Disch - 334 - 1972. Uploaded by MarkoPll. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, In.

334, the city street address of a place where time pivots forward and backward, is the setting of a unique odyssey through human history
User reviews
Thomas M. Disch’s 1974 novel, a mix of science fiction and Zola-like social realism, eyeballs 334 East 11th Street, New York City, home to a teeming mass of miserable, poverty-stricken occupants of a 21st century multistory apartment beehive. - Thomas Hobbs's philosophy of life as nasty, brutish, and short on a continual supply of amphetamines. Sorry to report, much of Disch's disturbing futuristic world has become harsh reality for huge chunks of our current-day population.

Forty-eight chapters, five long and forty-three short, feature interlinking snapshosts of a dozen or so men and women bound by their common plight of sordidness and desperation. To share a glimpse of what a reader is in for, below are commentary on two of the chapters: first, a longer one, a tale about college student Birdie Ludd in battle with the forces of darkness; and the second, a shorter tale, a vivid sketch of an outing at a most unusual art exhibit:

Degrading Education, One: Birdie Ludd has finally made it out of high school (P.S. 141) into one of New York City’s colleges only to sit in class listening to a professor on a TV yack nonstop about the life of Dante and how nearly everyone according to the Italian author’s Inferno will be tormented in hell, most certainly all the Jews. When a Jewish girl in the class says that doesn’t seem fair, the professor’s assistant simply replies there will be a test on the covered material. As Birdie is quick to recognize, none of what he is being force fed has any relevance to his everyday life and since teaching is done by television, there is absolutely no possibility of dialogue or a lively interchange of ideas; rather, he is required to simply swallow and regurgitate what he is given.

Degrading Education, Two: Summoned to the front office, a Mr. Mack informs Birdie his score on the mandatory state test of “twenty-seven” was a mistake and Birdie is now being reclassified as a “twenty-four,” which means he will not be allowed to father any children. Poor Birdie! He complains it isn’t his fault his father has diabetes. But we learn there are more factors to consider, things like Birdie lacking any exceptional service for the country or the economy. Additionally, we read how Birdie losses points because of his father’s unemployment pattern but gains a few points “by being a Negro.” Goodness, sound like Disch’s futuristic world has the deck stacked against blacks. What else is new? Perhaps not so coincidentally, Philip K. Dick's novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, also published in the 1970s, maps out genetic engineering geared to eliminate the US black population.

Degrading Education, Three: Birdie pens an essay for class entitled Problems of Creativeness, that ends “Another criteria of Creativeness was made by Socrates, so cruelly put to death by his own people, and I quote, “To know nothing is the first condition of all knowledge.” From the wisdom of that great Greek Philosopher may we not draw our own conclusions concerning these problems. Creativeness is the ability to see relationships where none exist.” Read carefully, this essay reveals a highly imaginative, creative, intelligent mind buried under bad English and disastrous inner city public education. Thus the title of Disch’s tale, The Death of Socrates, bestows a double meaning. As they say, a mind is a terrible thing to waste – and observing the social forces crushing Birdie Lund’s brilliant mind makes for one sad, profound story.

Crowd on the Anthill: Although Birdie is squashed and squeezed by cramped urban seediness, our young man has the capacity to perceive beauty radiating, glowing on the inside, even in dumb vending machines and blind, downtrodden faces. And, as to be expected, he has to continually fight through mass media and pop culture saturation – singing the words of commercials and viewing the movement of autos and ships as if moments from movies and television shows.

Extreme Military Service: One of the saddest endings I’ve ever encountered: Highly intellectual, sensitive, aesthetically attuned Birdie Lund feels trapped no matter which way he turns. As a last resort, he sees but one option open to him. Here are Disch’s concluding words: “The same afternoon, without even bothering to get drunk, he went to Times Square and enlisted in the U.S. Marines to go and defend democracy in Burma. Eight other guys were sworn in at the same time. They raised their right arms and took one step forward and rattled off the Pledge of Allegiance or whatever. Then the sergeant came up and slipped the black Marine Crops mask over Birdie’s sullen face. His new ID number was stenciled across the forehead in big white letters: USMC 100-7011-D07. And that was it, they were gorillas.”

A & P (2021)
Lottie is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at an exhibit were there are rows and stacks and pyramids of cans, boxes, meats, dairy, candy, cigarettes, bread, fruits, vegetables – all with individual brand names. Juan is so delighted just to be with her here at the museum. For Lottie, this is a time of perfection, one she wishes she could hold forever: “The real magic, which couldn’t be laid hold of, was simply that Juan was happy and interested and willing to spend perhaps the whole day with her. The trouble was that when you tried this hard to stop the flow it ran through your fingers and you were left squeezing air.”

Juan picks up a carrot that has the look and feel of being real but, of course, as part of the art exhibit, the carrot is not real. Visitors were given instructions as they entered the exhibit on what they would see and how to appreciate the art. The food and containers and cans are all fake, no matter how “real” they look – the Met’s tape said so, thus it must be true. But Juan insists, at the top of his lungs, that the carrot is real. One of the guards strides toward Juan and both he and Lottie are thrown out.

We can all recognize how this unusual art exhibit takes Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and Campbell Soup Cans and expands the concept quantitatively. Arthur C. Danto has written extensively on how Warhol’s creations herald in the “death of art” in the sense that objects of art are no longer separate from everyday objects, no longer special pieces like landscape oil paintings or marble sculptures; rather, the art world defines what is and what is not art. Traveling uptown from his downtown cockroach infested 334 mega-apartment, Juan doesn’t buy into the art world’s artificial distinction. Damn, it’s a carrot! A subtle Thomas M. Disch comment on the would-be state of the visual arts in the years following Warhol and the “death of art.”

Again, these are but two of forty-eight chapters. I hope I have whetted your appetite to sample more of Disch's novel. Special thanks to Goodreads friend Manny Rayner for alerting me to this forgotten classic.
This is one of Disch's best books, yet I do not feel it often receives the respect it deserves. At least in part, that's because it's not a conventional novel, but rather a mosaic novel constructed out of a series of stories he published back in 1971-72 in places like _New Worlds Quarterly_, _Quark_, and _New Dimensions_.

Also to consider is that the overall effect of this portrait of a speculative New York in the near future is fundamentally dypstopian. It is pretty clearly a projection of social trends evident at the time of writing wedded to a few what-if speculations. The writing is full of energy, but some of the characters give the impression that Disch was indulging in a bit of Schadenfreude at the expense of his hapless collection of fictional losers. It's entertaining, but it can be a bit down-beat, I fear.

Looked at as a collection of longer stories, the book is impressive in its own right. The enigmatic "Angouleme," an exquisitely-written child-chiller tale, is maybe the best example of Disch's short fiction. The black-humor "Bodies" contains some outright slapstick comedy, and a basic speculative premise that seems prescient in the light of the AIDS epidemic of our own times. The story "Emancipation" is a marvelously observed and imagined story, whose fundamental premise still strikes me as somewhat wonky.

The long, non-linear novella, "334," that closes the book is the most challenging work I think Disch has ever written. The writing is interesting and lucid, but the sequence-and-order of the episodes requires some time to assimilate, and the fragmentary nature of the episodes is reminiscent (in a way) of the paste-up method employed by Burroughs in _Naked Lunch_ or that used by people like J. G. Ballard. It's a rewarding work, but it may not be to the taste of fans of traditional sf.

Finally, taken as a whole, the mosaic effect created by all these stories -- interlocking in locale and sometimes in characters -- produces in the end a unified effect of Disch's vision of the possible future he imagined. It's a dark vision, but it carries absolute conviction and integrity. It's a first-rate book, and it deserves to be read.
Disch takes us through the lives of several people living at 334 11th Street, an apartment complex contolled by MODICOM; a modern day welfare system of social case workers.
The time frame jumps between 2020 and 2026, and especially in Part III the time frames jump from chapter to chapter, even with the same characters. It got a little frustrating when something would happen to one of them, and suddenly you are back in a time frame with this same character that you read about already, 50 pages ago. Some of Disch's characters are fully formed and multi-dimensional, but unfortunatly those are not the ones we get to see the most of.
Mainly, the story follows the Hansen's and the people they know and come in contact with in 334. Despite not being the best story Disch has written, the prose and poetry of his writing is still very much present, and at only 250 pages this is still a good addition to your reading pile.