The Best of Richard Matheson

Edited by Victor LaValle. Penguin Classics, $17 trade paper (407p) ISBN 978-0-14-313017-8
Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) is one of the giants of genre writing, and his talents are on full display in this collection, edited and introduced by LaValle (The Changeling). Classic stories such as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” in which an airline passenger is the sole witness to a creature tearing at the engines of the airplane, display Matheson’s quick, dexterous pacing. Matheson wrote to thrill, and he succeeds even when there’s no supernatural element. In the tense “A Visit to Santa Claus” and “Dying Room Only,” characters contend with human monsters in broad daylight. All of his stories are lessons in economy, and Matheson’s last lines are swift and sometimes brutal, as with “The Last Day,” which follows a man through humankind’s dying hours. The end of “Witch War” will stick with readers, melding the horrors of war with the indifferent brutality of children. Matheson was a writer of revelations, and some of his stories’ climactic twists feel like clockwork irony (the man was dead the whole time! The phone calls are coming from the cemetery!). Yet his imagination and mastery of the short form cannot be denied, and this collection demonstrates the indelible influence he had on speculative literature. Agent: Susan Ramer, Don Congdon Associates. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/14/2017
Release date: 10/10/2017
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-101-99366-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-7682-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5384-7684-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-7683-3
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