When I first began reading horror fiction in a serious way, there were several writers who came highly recommended. Most of these were, at first, brought to my attention from Stephen King. Later, when I began reading things like The Twilight Zone Magazine and The Horror Show, I started getting recommendations from various sources.

The essential names were writers like Peter Straub, Charles L. Grant, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Michael McDowell, T. E.D. Klein. Another important name was T.M. Wright.

T.M. Wright had published a number of books by 1984, but that is when I first read him. It was a novel called A Manhattan Ghost Story. This book was unlike anything I was reading at the time. It is unlike anything I had read before or since. Wright's approach is literary, surreal, suggestive rather than graphic, and incredibly mature by most standards of the genre. I quickly read others by him, like Strange Seed and The Playground.

T.M. Wright became one of the writers whose work I never missed. By the late 90's, however, there was little to be found by him, and then he had a resurgence of popularity in the 2000's. If anything, his work got weirder and more bizarre. His Cemetery Dance publication, The Eyes of the Carp, is one of the weirdest books I have ever read.

Wright was very active in the message boards. He was one of the most vocal members of the Shocklines forums. He was opinionated, and sometimes he ruffled some feathers. Wright always had strong political views, and his passionate convictions sometimes caused a stir. But he provoked thought and discussion. And T.M. Wright was always a gentleman about it.

The man is a poet. An illustrator. An editor and, above all, a damned fine writer. One who sought to elevate the genre to higher levels than most conceive horror fiction's capabilities.

T. M. Wright's health has been poor for quite some time, and now I have learned that he is no longer able to feed himself. He is hospitalized and is getting intravenous nutrition.

It's tragic, but the real tragedy is that his name never seems to come up when people are discussing horror fiction. I'm sure that most younger readers have not read him. When the work of T.M. Wright ought to be required reading for anyone with interest in the genre.

But then the work of T.M. Wright might be too literary, too weird, too challenging for many. I think readers were more adventurous back when Wright first made his mark.

Still, his books are available. Many are on Kindle, and used copies of them are plentiful and very inexpensive. The man sold a lot of books in the 80's, and they are easy to find. Some of his works are out in audio format. If you are among the uninitiated, The Playground would be a great place to start. Or A Manhattan Ghost Story.

T.M. Wright is one of the best we've ever had, and my heart is heavy at this turn of events.

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