Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Scary Reading

It's been ages since I've picked up a scary read. Well, January actually, since I read Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill. While I used to read the scaries all the time growing up, I've let them fall off over the past 10 years or so. Now, when I do dive into creepy reading it's all the creepier.
I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, is one of those classic horror novels I've had my eye on for ages, and Lesley was kind enough to pass along her copy a while back. I've resisted seeing the movie version until now, because I just had a feeling it couldn't hold a candle to the original, and having read the original I doubt I'll ever see the film.
Robert Neville is a heck of a smart guy. Trapped in his house during the nighttime hours by vampires, he spends the daylight exterminating the undead and killing off the living who have fallen prey to the mysterious plague that will ultimately turn them into bloodsuckers. To his knowledge, he's the only human left uninfected by the plague, and he fashions his house into a bastion and begins to study the strange illness that's claimed the rest of humanity. He has lofty hopes of understanding the illness, finding a better way to kill the vampires, and possibly a way to cure the sick.
This is one of those novels that truly disturbed me in parts. It wasn't Robert's killing or anything like that, and it wasn't gorey, but the utter sense of claustrophobia created by his nighttime hours trapped in the house. The writing was really nice, and it certainly kept me interested straight through the novella.
I actually had no idea until I received the book that the I Am Legend story itself is a novella, a very short 117 pages, and I really wished it'd been longer so I could drag it out a while. I haven't been as thrilled with the other stories included in this book, and I have a few left to go, so we'll see how it turns out.
I knew very little about Matheson until I picked up this book, just that he wrote the original novel that one of my favorite movies was based on, What Dreams May Come. I'm also tickled to see that he wrote the novel, Stir of Echoes, which I will probably have to read now since I loved that movie, too.
It's good to be reading and saloning again!! Today will be a relatively busy one. I need to get lessons posted for my online classes, and I'm playing hostess at a cousin's baby shower this afternoon. Think they'll mind if I sneak away to read a scary story or two?
This book is my first read for Carl's RIP III Challenge.
Happy Sunday!


  1. I had been hesitant about reading this book because I'd heard mixed reviews. It sounds like something I might like so now I'm gonna check it out.

  2. I really enjoyed I Am Legend, though sadly finished it after watching the film, which is very very different (though enjoyable all the same). A bit of spooky reading is just what one needs on a cold rainy evening!

  3. I didn't know he'd written those other stories. Very interesting.
    Enjoy your sunday and hope you'll be able to sneak in another scary story :)
    Which one is next?

  4. I rarely read scary books, or watch scary moives, because I find myself having nightmares for days!
    The current world situation and the political news is scary enough for me right now!

    My son would like this book though - nothing's too scary for him!

  5. I'm curious about the book "I Am Legend". I saw the film and found it interesting although a little hokey and ridiculous by the end. The parts where Will Smith and the dog were 'alone' in the city were well done though.

    I'm not sure what happened to me but I used to read scary novels all the time and loved horror movies too. Where did I go?

  6. I've never been one for scary stories, though I've loved listening to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark on CD every year with my elementary school classes during Halloween time.

    My favorites are those who build up as scary and then (ah, relief!) end in humor.

  7. Cool I like the sound of it. I don't read much horor either, just books that get put there sometimes. I have issues classifying Anne Rice as horror and urban fantasy. Vampires and werewolves do not necessarily a horror story make.

  8. I don't usually read mean to read scary books, but after reading this, think maybe I should give them a try!

  9. I've read a bunch of Matheson and I think he's amazing. He can totally horrify you without a single bit of gore or blood. Instead, he plays up on real fears. The Incredible Shrinking Man, for example, is horrifying because he just keeps getting smaller and smaller so fast that eventually he's trapped in a basement -- but he can't work his way out because as soon as he comes up with a plan, he's too small to go through with it. And, the horror of having a spider as an enemy (of course, the spider keeps "growing" as the man shrinks), not being able to find food or reach it . . . it's just seems so much more realistic than a guy with an axe, I guess! LOL

  10. Scary reads are my guilty pleasure, and I haven't been reading nearly enough lately.

    I Am Legend is one of my top 10's, but don't even get me started on the Will Smith movie (arrrggghhh I despise it). But I agree 100% about What Dreams May Come - gorgeous, fantastic movie!!

    Right now for the RIP challenge I'm almost done Shirley Jackson's "We Have Always Lived In The Castle", not as great as The Lottery, but still very creepy.
    Happy Sunday!

  11. The film just doesn't do this great story any justice. And I'm afraid that's what most people will remember about it.

    Of course, I've seen both the other films, What Dreams May Come, which was WONDERFUL...and Stir of Echoes, which I also loved. Didn't know that either!

  12. I'll be honest, I hated What Dreams May Come, but I did enjoy Stir of Echoes and I didn't know that Matheson wrote the story on which that movie was based either. I did see the movie I Am Legend, but now after reading your take on the book would like to read the book also.

  13. I'm going to have to point my husband toward this post. He loved the movie and has heard great things about the book. I'm sure that he'll be interested in what you are saying here. As for me, I'm too much of a scaredy cat to read it myself. ;)

  14. ooh, I'd forgotten about this book. I have it in ebook format. I must add it to my list for this challenge. Thanks for the reminder :)

  15. I can't do scary- you are braver than I could ever be! Heck, I can't even watch scary trailers for movies!

    Did you know Ani DiFranco is coming to town SOON? I was thinking that you mentioned liking her, you should check it out. She will be playing the Granada on Sept 19th.

  16. I don't like scaries :( so perhaps better give this one a miss, even if you recommend it so well! Maybe I'll do what Ravenous Reader suggests: give it to one of my sons...

  17. Samantha, definitely give it a go. I thought it was great quality and highly interesting.

    Mariel, amen to that! A bit of spooky reading is so much fun. And I doubt I'll see the film. Too many groans from the readers I know and cherish. lol

    Iliana, I had no idea about Stir of Echoes, and I'd forgotten about What Dreams May Come. As for my next scary book...I'm on the fence. Maybe We by the Russian whose name I refuse to go look up. lol

    Becca, this is one of those psychological novels that's scary for all it doesn't show. Know what I mean? Very creep though, and the writing is awesome.

    Dale, I think you'd freakin' love this one. I thought it was pretty darn innovative. Sort of like horror and sci-fi had babies by the end, but not hokey in the book I didn't think.

    LOL, I like those too, Deb. Takes the edge off!

    That's a good point, Rhinoa, and I wouldn't characterize this one as the run of the mill horror novella. It's very psychological and very smart. Brainy horror if that makes any sense.

  18. Looking forward to your thoughts on it if you decided to give it a try, Clare!

    Amen, Nancy! You put it just right. The book felt very real and very uncomfortable, and I really admire a writer that can bring that quality out in fiction. I'll definitely give the Shrinking Man a try!

    BZ, I love Jackson ("The Lottery") but I've never read a whole collection of hers. I really need to try "We Have Always Lived in the Castle."

    Stephanie, another reader's opinion to keep me away from the movie. It's sooo not worth ruining the good memory of the book. lol

    Justa, sorry to hear you didn't like What Dreams May Come. I never read the book version, so I can't really compare. I think I got flighty and sold it to a used book store. Will definitely dive into Stir of Echoes at some point. I bet the book is awesome!

    Thanks, LH! I hope he likes the book if he tries it.

    Fence, I'm surprised you haven't read this one already! You will adore it.

    Cold, I had no idea Ani was coming to town! Thanks for letting me know.

    LOL, Seachangs. Let them be the guinea pigs and give you the report afterwards.

  19. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this! I read this for last year's R.I.P. challenge and I was surprised at how good it was. I'd heard it was good, but I had no idea it was going to be that good! =)

    I watched the film after I read the novella, and though it's very different from the novella, I thought it was good in its own right. You should give it a try, though it has gotten pretty mixed reviews.

  20. I have this on my list for the challenge. I think I'll wait until I'm into the season a bit more. It seems like the perfect scary story.

  21. I've got this one on my list as well.

    I would tell you I recommend the movie, but I know you are a dog lover, and there were a few scenes involving Robert's dog that I couldn't watch... way too scary! Not sure yet how it lives up to the book, but it was a good movie in and of itself, even if I will NEVER watch it again.

  22. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I found it a fantastic read when I read it several years back. It was short, but he did a lot with those few pages to make a genuinely creepy story.

    I wouldn't necessarily shy away from the films, it really all depends on whether you can just see them as films and not as true interpretations of this story. The Vincent Price classic, The Last Man on Earth, is really good and much more true to the book than the Will Smith version. But I enjoyed a lot about the Will Smith version as well. They did a fantastic job of capturing the terror and loneliness of being the only person alive in a huge, devastated city. It is worth seeing for the opening scenes of NYC alone. The ending would have been fine had it not been based on a story that I already knew the ending of, but for a popcorn flick it is worth seeing.

  23. About the only similarities between the book and the movie are the title and the main character's name. Both are good, but in different ways. I'm not sure I would even characterize the novella as horror.

    Of the stories, my favorite is the one about the wake. I forget what it was called.

  24. Sounds like this is one creepy, atmospheric read. I enjoy that so much more than a gory story.

    I've seen the movie, but I will definitely be checking out the book, thanks to your wonderful review.


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