Sunday, January 2, 2011

CBR III Book 2: I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson

Everyone is familiar with Richard Matheson's best known work, "I Am Legend." It's the subject of three different movies, each a slightly different take on the story of the last man alive after the rest of the world has been turned into monsters. Reading the original tale, it's no wonder so many people have wanted to bring it to the big screen. It's an excellent tale of one man's lonely struggle to remain sane while the monsters outside cry for his blood.

Matheson's writing is dark and forboding, and he's fond of twists, so it's no wonder he used to write for the Twilight Zone series. The second half of this book is a collection of his short stories. Two in particular stand out in my memory: "Mad House," in which a man's anger at his deteriorating marriage and stalled career has an unexpected effect on his home; and "Person to Person," the last story in the collection. In "Person to Person," a man wakes one night to hear a phone ringing in his own head. He finally answers it, only to have another voice speak to him. Who is it? Is it really a man who claims to work for the government running an experiment, or is it something more sinister and close to home?

I really enjoyed reading Matheson's short stories. I might have to seek out his other works. It's easy to see his influence now in Stephen King's work. I recommend him to anyone looking for some good old fashioned horror.

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