CBR15Bingo: Violence (plenty of violence here!)
It’s interesting going back and doing these reviews a while after I read the books because I get to see what sticks around in my mind and what doesn’t. Say what you will about Stephen King, but his stories stay with you. There’s something about his ability to get across a strong visual image and have it embed itself in your brain forever. He really taps into something very primal with his writing, especially his earlier work. I am a “constant reader” so I’ve read almost all of his books and enjoy them across the time spectrum, but I do think his early work is connecting to something very intense, moreso than his more recent stuff. In contrast, I know I read Richard Matheson’s short story collection as it was in my stack of books to review, but if you asked me at this very moment to describe the plot of one story, I couldn’t do it. I don’t have any bad feelings about the book, but I read it and then my brain jettisoned it.
The Shores of Space is a collection of horror/sci-fi short stories by Richard Matheson. From a quick search, he is the author of I Am Legend and Hell House, which seem to be sticking around in the American canon. This is one of the books that came from my parents’ SF/F collection so I read it randomly. On flipping back through the book to jog my memory, this was a solid collection with a higher quality of writing than others I’ve read of the same era. “The Test” was an especially good story about a society where elderly people who can’t pass memory tests are euthanized. “Blood Son” was a nasty (in the positive sense of the word) story about a boy who wants to be a vampire. “The Curious Child” was a surprisingly frightening look at losing your memory with a sci-fi twist. Overall, there weren’t any weak stories but it just didn’t stay with me as a whole or make me want to search out more of his work. A pleasant diversion for the train.
Everything’s Eventual and Night Shift are both short story collections, with Night Shift collecting earlier work. Everything’s Eventual has some of my all-time favorite King short stories,, including “The Road Virus Heads North,” “Lunch at the Gotham Cafe,” and “1408.” “1408” in particular is one that always stays with me, it’s truly haunting and captures the illogical nature of horror in a way that is really scary. Horror without a safe explanation is the most frightening to me. Night Shift contains some real classics, such as “Children of the Corn” and “Trucks,” that were later made into movies. I also think “Quitters, Inc,” “Graveyard Shift,” “The Woman in the Room,” and “The Last Rung on the Ladder” are excellent and not as well known. When King deals with ostensibly non-horror subjects, as in “The Woman in the Room” or “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” he shows such a deft touch with emotion and how horrific real life events can be. King gets such a name as a “master of horror” that it can overshadow his true skill with human emotion and characterization that makes him such a great storyteller. These two are keepers for me since I know I’ll re-read them again in a few years.
Warnings for: all sorts of horror, murder, body horror, psychological horror, violence, child abuse, etc.