THE RICHARD MATHESON COMPANION isn't a biography, per se, but a collection of introductions, essays, and remembrances by people who are close to Matheson, or have worked with him closely. The list is impressive:Harlan Ellison, Dean Koontz, David Morrell, Ed Gorman, William F. Nolan, Matheson's wife and children, and many others all provide well-written, thought-provoking pieces.There are examinations of his work in novels and film, and a short, but interesting biography. There is also an exhaustive (to the point of publication, obviously) bibliography and many interesting photographs of Matheson and some of his book covers.
The major flaw of the book is that it DOES focus on his entire body of work, so if a person hasn't read the majority of his work, there are sections that will be of little interest, or won't make much sense at all.In a sense that's a positive, because it makes the reader want to discover those works, but it's also a bit of a letdown, because those works are (understandably) not included in the book.The section that focuses on his movie and TV writing is particularly frustrating because many of the works are hard or impossible to find.
The true treasure contained here is the text of THE YEARS STOOD STILL, the novel Matheson wrote when he was only FOURTEEN.It's a fascinating glimpse at Matheson's growth as a writer, and shows his wild imagination at work even as a teenager.
The book makes a great case for Matheson as a criminally under-appreciated author, whose work has a depth and craft that make him the true "author's author." I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Matheson, but for those only vaguely familiar with him, I'd say read THE SHRINKING MAN, I AM LEGEND, HELL HOUSE, and then dive in.
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