This is the 2017 Penguin Classics edition of The Best Of Richard Matheson, edited by Victor LaValle. Richard Matheson is a novelist and short-story writer, as well as a writer for film and television. He is best known for his short novel I Am Legend, which has had no less that four film versions produced, and for having written 16 episodes of The Twilight Zone. Matheson has influenced the work of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and others. Like me, he graduated from the journalism school at the University of Missouri (a year ahead of my father), and is one of my writing heroes.
This book contains over thirty short-stories, including some that are very well known. These include:
- Prey – This story is the basis for maybe the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on TV. The 1975 TV-movie Trilogy Of Terror was an anthology adapted from three different Matheson stories. The third story, titled Amelia, was based on Prey. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but just reading this story sent chills up my spine.
- Duel – This story was adapted into the 1971 made-for-TV movie of the same name. The movie is significant because is marked the debut of producer Steven Spielberg.
- Nightmare at 20,000 Feet – This story is the basis for probably the all-time single favorite Twilight Zone episode, featuring William Shatner in the lead role.
I gave The Best Of Richard Matheson five stars on Goodreads. While there are a few stories in this collection that miss the mark, Matheson has a skill for setting up plot twists that is second to none and his writing style is still as readable today as it was 60+ years ago when he began writing these stories.