RIP: David R. Bunch (1925-2000)

David R. Bunch, poet and short story author, died at 1:43AM on May 29 at the Village North Manor (a skilled nursing facility) in north St. Louis County, Missouri. His death followed a series of strokes.

Mr. Bunch published nearly 80 short science fiction stories. Over half of them were collected in Moderan which was published by Avon in 1971. A chapbook of his poetry, We Have a Nervous Job, was published in 1983, a second collection Bunch! was published in 1993 and a second poetry collection The Heartacher and the Warehouseman was published by Anamnesis Press in April of this year.

Mr. Bunch had a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Missouri State University and a MA in English from Washington University in St. Louis. He retired from civilian work as a cartographer for the Defense Mapping Agency in St. Louis in 1973.

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David R. Bunch – An Appreciation By John Novak

I first met David Bunch while waiting for a bus in the late summer of 1975. I was reading a short story in Fantasy and Science Fiction when this gentleman plopped himself at the end of the bench on which I was sitting. I looked up and said, "Hi", and continued reading. When he asked me what I was reading, I told him, "Science fiction".

He said, "Oh, you like science fiction?".

I said I did.

He then asked, "Have you heard of David Bunch?".

I replied, "Yeah, the author of the Moderan stories. Someone at work have me a copy of the collection. Read the first few stories, but I really couldn’t get into them".

By this point Mr. Bunch is laughing uproariously.

When he stopped laughing, he introduced himself. Feeling rather embarrassed, I said, "Oops!". Then I introduced myself. He told me he was a retired cartographer from the Defense Mapping Agency (predecessor to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency). I told him I had been working there just a little more than a year.

We chatted a little about our jobs and then a little about SF. We talked a bit about his stories and he told me that his stories weren’t just for everyone or even the average SF fan. I gave him my impression of his stories I had read and he said he was very appreciative of this criticism.

Throughout the following years I would run into Mr. Bunch when he would come to the base to go to the credit union and in later years, just sporadically, while I would be running errands on weekends. It would usually be at the supermarket or a discount store where I would run into him. He graciously took the time to talk with me, asked how things were going at work, how I was doing, etc. At times I would asked him if we could get together for lunch or dinner, but he always declined.

Sometimes he would tell me that he just had another story published, and shortly after these chance encounters, I would receive in the mail a copy of the magazine with his new story in it.

When the first Archon convention was getting started in 1977, I asked him if he would be interested in coming to the convention. He gracefully declined, explaining that he did not have much interest in attending SF conventions. Just a few years ago, when Ray Bradbury was Archon’s GoH and A. E. Van Vogt was the Special Guest, I wrote to Mr. Bunch about this, hoping that this would persuade him to come to the convention.

He wrote me a very nice letter declining the invitation, but he sent me a copy of the latest collection of his stories, BUNCH! (1993). That was the last time I heard from him.

The last time I saw him was in July a year or two before that. He was coming out of a discount store and I was going in.

My impression is that David Bunch was a very private person. I respected that very much.

After reading the first few stories in BUNCH!, I must admit that I have a better appreciation for his writing. Part of it may be reader maturity. Reading his stories demands a bit of work on the reader’s part, but the payoff is worth it.

I’ll have to give his first collection ("Moderan") another chance. If I can just find it. And I bet this time around I’ll enjoy and appreciate them more. It’s just too bad he’s not around anymore so that I could tell him that. But even if I did, he’d probably just laugh. And I wouldn’t be offended.

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