This short novel that is told with almost fable-like simplicity: Matt Harper is a first-time counselor at a boy's summer camp when he witnesses a casual brutality that leads to murder. The bullying, gluttonous headman Ed Nolan (who has "reduced Camp Pleasant to a microcosm of the Third Reich") is portrayed as one stereotype that the reader is not sorry to see killed off. Instead, all of our sympathy is reserved for the possible suspects: Merv Loomis, the homosexual counselor Nolan humiliates into quitting; the troubled ten-year-old Tony Rocca; Nolan's meek wife, Ellen; and several others. The setting and tone have the distinct feel of the early 1950s, but a casual reference to actress Catherine Deneuve places the action in the mid-60s or later.
In other hands, perhaps this minimalist plot would be inadequate, but Matheson, author of Somewhere in Time and Hell House as well as classic Twilight Zone teleplays, has such a command of his craft that reading this book is pure pleasure. The simple writing style brings to mind Hemingway. "It was a Wednesday night and there were movies down in the lodge so I sent my boys there and stayed in the cabin, packing my trunk." Occasionally, Matheson waxes poetic: "I lay there staring at the wall, feeling my heart thud slowly in my chest like the fist of a dying man on the wall of his prison." Readers will find in Matheson's book a deeply engaging story with a clear writing style that is a pleasure to read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Burton Matheson (born February 20, 1926) is an American author and screenwriter working primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Between 1950 and 1971, Matheson produced dozens of stories, frequently combining elements from the different genres in which he works, making important contributions to the further development of modern horror. Matheson wrote fourteen episodes for the American television series The Twilight Zone, including the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Notably, Steven Spielberg's first full length film (made for television) was based on the story "Duel," for which Matheson also wrote the screenplay.
Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding, was published in 1953. His thirty novels since then include The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again adapted from Matheson's own screenplay), and a science fiction/vampire novel, I Am Legend (made into film as The Last Man on Earth, 1964, The Omega Man, 1971, and
I Am Legend, 2007).
A new film based on Matheson's story "Steel," entitled Real Steel, is a major motion picture that was released in October 2011. His most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, appeared in March 2011.
According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson's scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and '60s anticipated the "pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist." In 2010, Matheson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and Stephen King has cited Matheson as a creative influence; his novel Cell is dedicated to Matheson along with filmmaker George A. Romero. Author Anne Rice has said that Matheson's short story, "A Dress of White Silk" was a primary early influence on her interest in vampires and fantasy fiction.
About Richard Matheson
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Published May 12, 2011
Horror, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.