My first introduction to Richard Matheson came through I Am Legend. Not the book so much but rather the movie starring Will Smith. I had heard a bit about the movie and initially assumed that it was about zombies. And, since I got tired of zombies about 2 days after they became popular a few years ago (not trying to be a cool hipster here- zombies just aren’t my sub-genre), I wasn’t particularly interested in watching the movie when it first came out.
But, as so often happens, it passed through my hands at work and I decided to check it out. And then felt a little stupid once I realized it was not about zombies at all but vampires. I enjoyed it but honestly (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER), once the dog died (SPOILER DONE) I was kind of finished with the movie. Although I did like it enough to think, “I should read this book!”
Fast forward a few years. I’m checking in new books at work and I see we’ve just gotten a brand new copy of Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson. After a quick perusal of the back and discovering that none other than Ray Bradbury recommended him, I immediately check it out. And then go into our stacks to check out another short story compilation (Duel: Terror Stories) and, since it was just sitting there waiting for me, I Am Legend (the book).
I fell in love after the first story. Ray Bradbury is my favorite author and he is particularly good at writing creepy stories. So is Richard Matheson. These stories aren’t disgusting or gruesome, at least not in the sense that there’s a high body count or unnecessary hacking, sawing, splattering, etc. Almost all of these stories start with ordinary people in ordinary situations. But slowly and surely things start going wrong.
I read I Am Legend after the short stories. I enjoyed the book but had to laugh at how different it was from the movie. Yes, the movie had some of the basic things from the original story but, well, it was completely different. Not bad different, but it completely changed the meaning of the title.
I haven’t had a chance to read any more of Matheson’s work although I’m particularly curious to read Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come having already seen both movies.
Any other Matheson fans? What would you suggest I read next?