Saturday, December 15, 2007

Book 18 – I Am Legend (& Other Stories)

By Richard Matheson

This was the result of a very rare moment where I purchased a brand new trade paperback for myself (couldn’t find a used copy in time for the movie release), and it was worth every over-priced Canadian penny. What a totally wicked way to almost end my 2007 Book List!

I was so very glad I read the book before watching the movie. As I’m sure all the 50-bookers are already familiar with the premise of Matheson’s story, I won’t bother to summarize. The ending alone is priceless, exuding the kind of bleak pessimism that haunts your thoughts for days (unlike the movie’ version’s perversely uplifting ending which left me shuddering for the wrong reasons!). 'I Am Legend' is obviously a must-read for any fan of post-apocalyptic and/or horror fiction.

Adding more bang to my canuck-buck, my purchase also came with several short stories by the same author. Some aspects of the writing are a little pulpy in terms of subject matter and suffer from out-datedness a la the 1950’s, e.g. stereotypical heterosexual relationships and preconceived ideas about non-white cultures. But the majority of the stories were still page-turners with some creepy little gems like:

"Prey" – a woman is trapped inside her apartment with a possessed African-fetish doll! Now you get my drift? But her battle with the murderous doll was very well-written.

"Mad House" – a hapless man’s rage against his loser life is so great, it takes on a life of its own... and turns his own house against him! walkerp would definitely identify with the character’s furious outbursts ;-)

"From Shadowed Places" – a rich American man pisses off a vengeful African shaman and pays the price! And help comes in the most unlikely form.

"Person to Person" – a man hears a voice inside his head, a voice that telephones him every night! Is it a figment of his subconscious, or a sinister external entity that wants to take over his body? Neat twist at the end too.


Olman Feelyus said...

Great review! I knew that Matheson has written a ton of stuff for television and those stories sound like they would fit very well in that format. I'm psyched to check them out.

Jarrett said...

Excellent review. I haven't read the book. I haven't seen the movie. And I want to do both. And now that I know there is a difference between the two I have a reason to do both.

I just saw Kite Runner and the movie is too faithful to the book and I wound up wanting to tear my eyes out to relieve the boredom.

Maclintok said...

Sweet. How does this book compare to something like "Cell"?

I also didn't like the movie's ending and found it ironic, in a very bad way.

beemused said...

"I Am Legend" is a classic, where "Cell" probably won't stand the test of time as well, mostly because it's a twist on already established themes.

Ugh, the movie's ending was quite atrocious. They really should've gave the movie a different title than the book. Also the association with Bob Marley's ubiquitous album 'Legend' was a little too barfy for me too.