The M.D.
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The M.D. (Supernatural Minnesota #2)

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  260 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Exploring questions of guilt and responsibility, the second book in Thomas M. Disch's Supernatural Minnesota series, The M.D., is a satisfying mix of dark humor, biting social commentary, and terrifying horror. Given the power to heal or to harm by the Roman god Mercury through a magical staff, the caduceus, young Billy Michaels embarks on a lifelong journey of inflicting...more
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published April 23rd 1991 by Knopf (first published 1989)
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Robert Dunbar
Newsweek called him our “most formidably gifted unfamous American writer.”

Talk about damning praise. When Thom Disch shot himself in 2008, I felt the loss deeply, though I'd only met the man once and could hardly have called him a friend. But then I imagine that many of his readers reacted this way.

Disch was always something of a phenomenon. His novels – especially The Genocides, Camp Concentration, 334 and On Wings of Song – loom among the classics of New Wave science fiction, and connoisseurs...more
Robert Beveridge
Thomas M. Disch, The M.D. (Berkley, 1991)

There's a scene about halfway through The M.D. that really shows why Thomas M. Disch, though not a household name in letters, is revered by critics and discerning bibliophiles. I'm usually the harshest of reviewers when it comes to message fiction, that strain of writing where the plot is stopped in order for the writer to advance a point of view. But there's a debate here between a tobacco advocacy group executive and a bright thirteen-year-old boy that...more
Eli
Good in so many ways, and truly disturbing. It's not as stylishly written as The Businessman or as focused as The Priest - it's the most self-consciously Stephen King-like one in the series, and it could be read as just a nicely plotted deal-with-the-devil story. But on second reading, I got the same sense that John Clute did (in his fine foreword to the Minnesota U.P. edition), that Disch isn't just writing about one misguided kid who makes bad things happen, but a whole world riddled with fata...more
Randolph Carter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Darin
The M.D. offers an intriguing premise: what if the ancient Greek gods were real? In mythology they often actively intervened in the lives of mortals. In this novel, the god Mercury offers godlike powers to young Billy Michaels in exchange for his worship. Billy receives the caduceus, the ancient symbol of medicine consisting of twisted sticks topped with the desiccated carcass of a bird, and with it can cast spells to heal and protect anything. However, much like anything so powerful, there is a...more
Kevin

"It is the oldest irony of the medical profession that doctors seem to profit from the misfortune of others."

Though Tom Disch is a favorite of mine, I was a bit hesitant to delve into The M.D. because this late-career shift toward the horror genre seemed like a naked bid for Steven King-like success. But there's nothing watered down about this novel, which finds Disch at the height of his considerable powers. The dark humor, deft characterization, and intricate plotting of his best work are all...more
Midas68
Ok, Heres a Doozy for ya.
I had not went the Disch route before and quickly found that this guy
is pretty darn GOod.
The book is Intelligent and Cruel. The main character is a boy who
see's Santa Clause and is givin a wand stick(ITs Magic Baby) Well he
soon grows up enough and does not believe in Santa any Longer. So
Santa turns into something more believable. That Stick has some kinda
Voodoo on it I tell ya. Only thing is, theres always that damn price
you gotta pay for using it.
I have to say the boy w...more
Traummachine
This is subtitled "A Horror Story", and while that's accurate I wouldn't say this is horror in the sense most of us think when we hear the term. It's not scary, and few of the normal trappings of a horror story are present. Still, this is a tale of something horrible, even monstrous.

The M.D. is the story of a young boy who is faced with a monstrous bargain: he can heal, but only in direct relation to the amount of life-force he uses to charge up his caduceus. I love the twisting of this medical...more
Melissa
Where to begin? The beginning is great; creepy, well-written, draws you right into the family & all the characters. There is a lot of interesting foreshadowing. Then someone dies, book two begins & we're somewhere completely different. But it's okay, you get back into the rhythm of the story & persevere and it's pretty cool, although not as cool as before. And then someone dies, book three begins & we're somewhere completely different. And by that point you are tearing your hair...more
Zack
Disch did a number of "Supernatural Minnesota" books that combine the presence of absurdly mundane mystical beings with very, very messed-up human beings. In this case, a young boy is given a mystical staff by Mercury, who appears as Santa, that allows him to heal any sickness. Unfortunately, he has to come up with a proportionate amount of hurt to inflict on someone else. I think they stole this for the show CARNIVALE.

The book is quite funny, but the horrific stuff comes more from the everyday...more
Sherry
I think I'm as done as I'm ever going to get. I usually like Thomas Disch. This book has been sitting on my "to read" shelf for years. Its something I read hoping to love and didn't much even like. It didn't even have enough steam to carry me halfway through. If you know how much I love to read pretty much everything, you know how rare it is for me to not finish a book. I wish I could say I even wanted to at this point. Maybe I'll give it a shot in the summertime. Don't get discouraged by me tho...more
Paul Brown
Nothing much ever happens.
Eve
I randomly found this book in a used bookstore and picked it up because of the rave endorsements. The plot summary makes the book sound a bit crazy and all over the place (a little boy visited by a vision of Santa who really turns out to be the god Mercury who wants his soul, etc. etc. etc.) but it works once you start reading. The first 3/4 of the book was great, with very dark humor and original ideas, but it totally fell apart in the last 100 or so pages, so only 3 stars.
Bruce Reid
Genuinely unnerving, not due to discrete horrific setpieces (though it has its share) but the sustained tone of sociopathic detachment. When a literalized evil treats the world as a petri dish for its disinterested, coolly scientific inquiries, anything can happen; here, it does, again and again. Less wickedly hilarious than some other Disch, but no less wicked. A recent reread confirmed this as on of the scariest books I know.
♥ Marlene♥
Back in my Stephen King days I was always trying to find a writer like him. Well Thomas M. Disch is not like him but in his own way, just as good.

It ha been so long since I've read this book (Read it in Dutch and still have a Dutch copy) but i do remember I loved this book.

So If you like King, try this book. Very good blend mixing horror and fantasy.
Frank
Great and engaging for the first half I was ready for a good follow up when the protagonist grew up. But then it just became ordinary and uninteresting. Didn't care for the ending just disjointed and silly. Still the first half is good enough to deserve the four stars.
George/Bev
George: I read this a long time ago, but I remember it as being very good, unique and fast reading. I believe it is an excellent book that was overlooked by most people. It may be of most interest to guys.
Michellestevens234
Read this many years ago and have been trying to find out the name of the book and the author for ages. Finally found it, now I have to get my hands on a copy and read it again!
Tony
Wildly imaginative, I found this fever-dream of a tale to be viscerally & profoundly disturbing. So naturally I read it twice. Can't say that about many other books.
Stuart Chandler
Engaging horror/sci fi. Read it a long time ago but remember that I enjoyed it. Maybe I have a light morbid fascination when it comes to book selection.
Cindy
A little out there but intriguing. It's been quite awhile since I read a book in the horror genre. While it wasn't scary, it was thought provoking.
Beth
I don't scare easily, but this is one of the few books that really freaked me out. I have loved it since I first read it in middle school.
Jaime Contreras
This was disturbing and forgettable. It was too over the top.
Nick
Very entertaining, snarky novel with a wicked sense of black humor.
Wesley Young
Wonderful concept that was well excecuted.
Martin Bromirski
thomas disch is a new FAVORITE. read him.
Penny
Just creepy enough to keep reading!
Danath01
horrible could not recommend it
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29998
Poet and cynic, Thomas M. Disch brought to the sf of the New Wave a camp sensibility and a sardonicism that too much sf had lacked. His sf novels include Camp Concentration, with its colony of prisoners mutated into super-intelligence by the bacteria that will in due course kill them horribly, and On Wings of Song, in which many of the brightest and best have left their bodies for what may be genu...more
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Camp Concentration 334 The Genocides On Wings of Song The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World

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