Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Am Legend

I Am Legend (and Other Stories) by Richard Matheson
Tom Doherty Associates, 2007
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9780765318749
very highly recommended

From the Publisher
Robert Neville may well be the only survivor of an incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.
By day, he scavenges for food and supplies, and is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn....

My Thoughts:

Matheson is a Grand Master of Horror and past winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, he has also won the Edgar, the Hugo, the Spur, and the Writer's Guild awards. Many other writers, like Rod Sterling and Stephen King, give Matheson credit for inspiring them or influencing their work. Matheson stories are the originals, on which newer stories are based, and classics at this point.

I'm including the years of the original copyright dates of the stories included in this edition:
I am Legend, 1954
Buried Talents, 1987
The Near Departed, 1987
Prey, 1969
Witch War, 1951
Dance of the Dead, 1954
Dress of White Silk, 1951
Mad House, 1952
The Funeral, 1955
From Shadowed Places, 1960
Person to Person, 1989

After having watched several movies based on Matheson's I Am Legend for a Movie Dude weekend:
I Am Legend Marathon
Aliens vs. Avatar and Zombies
I felt it was about time to actually read the original story after I found this edition at my local used book store's clearance section (one of my favorite hang-outs.)

Of the movies, The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price is actually the closest to Matheson's original story. Written in 1954 the story takes place in a future 1976. Excellent story and I'm glad I read the original rather than just relying on movie viewing. I was also quite pleasantly surprised with the other short stories included in this collection. They were creepy, every one.
Very Highly Recommended


I Am Legend
On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back. opening

He knew he should burn up the paper plates and utensils too, and dust the furniture and wash out the sinks and the bathtub and toilet, and change the sheets and pillowcase on his bed; but he didn’t feel like it.
For he was a man and he was alone and these things had no importance to him. pg. 14-15

When he was finished stringing the garlic cloves, he went outside and nailed them over the window boarding, taking down the old strings, which had lost most of their potent smell.
He had to go through this process twice a week. Until he found something better, it was his first line of defense.
Defense? he often thought. For what?
All afternoon he made stakes. pg. 16

He still heard them outside, their murmuring and their walkings about and their cries, their snarling and fighting among themselves. Once in a while a rock or brick thudded off the house. Sometimes a dog barked.
And they were all there for the same thing. pg. 18

Why didn’t they leave him alone? Did they think they could all have him? Were they so stupid they thought that? Why did they keep coming every night? After five months, you’d think they’d give up and try elsewhere. pg. 20

It was the ugliest doll she had ever seen. Seven inches long and carved from wood, it had a skeletal body and an oversized head. Its expression was maniacally fierce, its pointed teeth completely bared, its glaring eyes protuberant. It clutched an eight-inch spear in its right hand. pg. 182

Dress of White Silk
Granma locked me in my room and wont let me out. Because its happened she says. I guess I was bad. pg. 221

Mad House
Her husband is releasing another cloud of animal temper. It is mist that clings. It hangs over the furniture, drips from the walls.
It is alive.
So through the days and nights. His anger falling like frenzied axe blows in his house on everything he owns. Sprays of teeth-grinding hysteria clouding his windows and falling on his floors. Oceans of wild, uncontrolled hate flooding through every room of his house; filling each iota of space with a shifting, throbbing life. pg. 229

From Shadowed Places
"I'm being hexed," he said. pg. 272

Person to Person
He could still hear the sound of a telephone ringing.
Several moments passed before it came to him that the ringing was inside his head. pg. 294


Amanda said...

I admit this one scares me a little, both the movie and the book...

Lori L said...

Scary and nihilistic... but the story is certainly worth reading if you've seen all sorts of movies based on it. It's a little embarrassing I waited this long to read it.