CAMP PLEASANT

Richard Matheson, Author . Cemetery Dance $40 (185p) ISBN 978-1-58767-014-5

Matt Harper, a first-time counselor at a boy's summer camp, is witness to casual brutality that leads to murder in this short novel told with almost fable-like simplicity. Certainly the bullying, gluttonous headman Ed Nolan (who "has reduced Camp Pleasant to a microcosm of the Third Reich") is portrayed as a stereotype the reader is not sorry to see killed. All the sympathy is reserved for the possible suspects, from Merv Loomis, the homosexual counselor Nolan humiliates into quitting, to the troubled 10-year-old, Tony Rocca, to Nolan's meek wife, Ellen, and others. The setting and tone have the distinct feel of the early 1950s, but a casual reference to Catherine Deneuve places the action in the mid-60s or later. The minimalist plot would be inadequate in other hands, but Matheson—author of Somewhere in Time and Hell House, as well as classic Twilight Zone teleplays—has such command of his craft that this book is a pure pleasure. The simple style recalls Hemingway, with such lines as "It was a Wednesday night and there were movies down in the lodge so I sent my boys there and stayed in the cabin, packing my trunk." Occasionally Matheson waxes poetic: "I lay there staring at the wall, feeling my heart thud slowly in my chest like the fist of a dying man on the wall of his prison." This limited edition is sure to satisfy the veteran author's many fans and collectors. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
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