Book Review: “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson, The BoxI was browsing the shelves at B&N and randomly picked this book up. It had an endorsement on the cover from Stephen King, and other books by the same author had endorsements on them from Ray Bradbury. This was enough to get me interested, and right then and there I read the short story, “Button, Button” in the bookstore aisle. I confess, this is my first time reading Richard Matheson. I didn’t know anything about him before finding this book. Now, I’m a fan!

Button, Button  is a quick read. There are only a dozen stories and some of them are as short as eight pages. Matheson is also a dialogue heavy writer (at least in this collection), which gives the stories a great pace and ads to the quickness of the reading experience. I especially enjoyed how thought-provoking “Mute” was, and two stories had especially great zingers at the end (I won’t name them because that would be spoiling!).

Matheson (I’ve learned) has written the stories that many movies and TV shows I’ve seen or heard of are based on. Some of these include: “The Box,” “What Dreams May Come,” and “I Am Legend.” Many of the stories in this collection have an eerie, Twilight Zone / Bradbury vibe about them. They often end with a twist, and are usually strange. The subtitle says it best: “Uncanny Stories.”

My only critique of this collection was the inclusion of the story, “Girl of My Dreams.” If the other stories involved death or violence, it wasn’t described. The majority of crime and detective shows on TV are told this way: the murder around which the story is centered is not actually shown on camera,  but rather the adventure the characters have in trying to crack the case is shown. “Girl of My Dreams” however, includes a rather violent murder. I’m not trying to make some case against violence in fiction, but in this collection of stories “Girl of My Dreams” felt like it didn’t belong.

That said, I enjoyed this collection. It’s a fun, quick read of strange stories. If you like the Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury, and not-so-violent Stephen King stuff then you might like this too.

Don’t you love it when you randomly find a great new author?

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