June 28, 2013

Richard Matheson: An Appreciation

When I was a child, I had a tendency to not just watch a lot of television....but I paid attention to the credits. For me, names like "Gene Roddenberry" and "Michael Garrison" were just as important as the stars.

When it came to The Twilight Zone, there were three writers who popped up frequently: Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, and Richard Matheson.

I was saddened to hear about Matheson's recent passing; after all, I had some memories of Serling (via Night Gallery), and Beaumont via the now long out-of-print Howling Man collection. Matheson, however, was one of the more easily "discoverable" authors that I read.

Yes, he wrote horror, but not the kind of neo-Gothic or Lovecraftian pastiche that might have been prevalent. Matheson's work was grounded in real-life, whether it be the faceless truck driver in Duel (which scared the whatever out of me as a child) or the great reversal in I Am Legend (do yourself a favor and read the book; ignore the Will Smith movie, it's ok if you do so. I won't blame you).

One of the advantages of an author's passing is that he (or she) often leaves a treasure trove of great writing to enjoy. The best way to honor Richard Matheson - buy or borrow (from the library) one of his books.

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