Thursday, October 15, 2015

NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET: HORROR STORIES by Richard Matheson

This is my first real foray into Matheson's work that I can remember (I read I Am Legend a very long time ago and can't quite recall it). I knew he was an important and influential author but I had no idea to what extent! It feels to me like he's the author that had the strongest influence on Stephen King. Their style of storytelling and pacing (at least in the short story work) is very similar! And you can also see why he was tapped to write The Twilight Zone episodes and why that show adapted a few of his stories. If you're a fan of the show, you'll love this collection as the stories have a very similar structure.

I listened to this on audiobook throughout the span of several months. I really enjoyed most of the tales in this collection and was constantly impressed with how clever and creative Matheson was in his storytelling. The concept and idea for each story is compelling and will keep you reading. And not only does Matheson show real skill in building upon these concepts in interesting and original ways and bringing it to a slam-bang ending, but he also has a great sense of what to show, what not to show, and when to do so. In the entire collection the writing has a great sense of mischief throughout, that same sense that King's writing has in his best creepy tales. The best example of Matheson's skill is the best story in the collection, the utterly creepy "Dress of White Silk", about a young girl obsessed with her dead mother's belongings. And that final couple of lines? Holy shit.

Other standout stories are, "Disappearing Act," "Legion of Plotters," "The Likeness of Julie," "First Anniversary," "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,""Through Channels," "Blood Son"...hell, who am I kidding? Just read 'em all. Definitely a recommendation if you're looking for some classic horror stories this Halloween season.


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