Friday, February 20, 2009
Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson
*Read in 2008*
Richard Matheson might just be the greatest writer you've never heard of. The author of I am Legend, Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hell House (a 2007 read of mine), numerous Twilight Zone episodes, etc, you'd think he'd be a household name. Instead, when he's spoken of at all it's often in relation to Stephen King, a man who names Matheson as one of his greatest inspirations.
Button, Button is a collection of pre-1970 stories by Matheson, headlined by the wonderful title piece. It's the tale of a woman who is offered $50,000 for each time she'd press a button, knowing that each time she pressed it a stranger would die. There's goofiness here too, such as 'The Creeping Terror', Matheson's take on the spreading influence of California, and Twilight Zone worthy pieces like 'No Such Thing as a Vampire', and the dated 'The Jazz Machine'.
There are great stories in the book and a small percentage of clunkers, but overall a fine collection and a solid introduction to the work of a master.