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Button, Button: Uncanny Stories

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,213 ratings  ·  160 reviews
What if every time you pushed a button you received $50,000...but someone you didn’t know died? Would you still push the button? How many times?

"Button, Button", which inspired a memorable Twilight Zone episode, is just one of a dozen unforgettable tales in this new collection by Richard Matheson, the New York Times bestselling author of I Am Legend and What Dreams May
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Tor Books
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I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard MathesonHell House by Richard MathesonWhat Dreams May Come by Richard MathesonThe Shrinking Man by Richard MathesonNightmare At 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson
The Best of Richard Matheson
23rd out of 29 books — 36 voters
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Seen the Movie, Read the Book
103rd out of 144 books — 61 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,169)
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Brooke
Richard Matheson wrote some of the most iconic Twilight Zone episodes, so when I saw this short story collection at the library, I figured it had to be great.

Unfortunately, only the title story really packed the sort of punch that I was expecting. The other stories range from clever to mediocre, with more falling on the latter side. The TZ episode "Mute" was never one of my favorites, and the short story that inspired it went on for far too long and wasn't any better than the television episode.
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Becky
I've been reading a lot of Matheson lately, and this one wasn't much different -- clever premise after clever premise, but nothing really goes anywhere and don't expect any kind of meaningful ending.

That having been said, I enjoy reading Matheson, but he's kinda like bingeing on junk food -- strictly empty calories.

The first half of the book is kind of "light," in the damning aspect of that term. The title story has an interesting premise, but the ending is cheap. For a better version of a rela
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Brittany
2.5 stars. A couple of good stories but the rest are mediocre.
Drew
A collection of short stories by the writer of "I Am Legend" and many Twilight Zone episodes. Very much in that vein. Most of these were written between 1950 and 1970, but have a timeless appeal. Except "The Creeping Terror", which is just horribly dated and is best forgotten. But a couple of these would make awesome short movies. Some of them were made into movies, including "The Box" and "Dying Room Only". Some have a TWIST ENDING! before that was a thing and M. Night Shyamalan ran that concep ...more
Rob
Nov 25, 2008 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: horror
For the most part, this was a really good collection of short stories. Matheson seems to be quite good at the form, and I found myself enjoying most of these stories, though there were a few in there that just didn't work all that well for me. Many of them seemed to have an "O'Henry" kind of feel to them. None were too long and the writing style made them very easy reads (except for the Jazz Machine).

What didn't work for me: The Jazz Machine, Tis the Season to be Jelly, and the Creeping Terror.
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Oana
It's always hard to read short stories, especially in an anthology, because they vary so much in length, quality, mood and so on. The stories in this collection, mostly from the 1950s and the 1960s, seem rather watered down to me, perhaps being too short and rushed (on the other hand, I loved Matheson's full-length novel I Am Legend).

The story "No Such Thing as a Vampire" was oddly set in Rumania, not Romania, though that could be the mistaken spelling of its time (1959).

The one story I did li
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Sean McBride
Matheson is an early influence on me, as you can probably tell by my first book A View of the Edge of the World. One of the writers for the original Twilight Zone series, his stories all held morals, but also had some spectacular way of transmitting those morals. Many people contend that he's a shock writer, the original Shyamalan, but he is so much more, so much deeper and more honest. Sure there are stories like "The Creeping Terror" which are overhanded satire (Vonnegut on steroids), which i' ...more
Abigail
I picked up this book, once I realized the movie The Box was based on a short story by Richard Matheson. I wasn't familiar with Richard Matheson, but apparently, Stephen King was once quoted as saying that he is the author who influenced him the most as a writer, so I figured I would give him a try.

I read the first story, which the movie, The Box is based on called Button, Button and loved it. It is a tale of ethics vs. greed as a married couple possesses a device in which each time they press a
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Maryse
Actually, I've only read the ebook version of Matheson's short story "Button, Button". It was reminiscent of WW Jacob's
The Monkey's Paw with a dark twist in the end. I have seen both the Twilight Zone version and the Cameron Diaz movie, both of which weren't faithful to Matheson's original concept (although the Twilight Zone version seemed closer even though it differed in the ending). Personally, I think I prefer the Monkey's Paw, but Button, Button is still a nice, good read, especially since
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Dell R. Lipscomb
This is one of the better Richard Matheson short story collections. Most Matheson collections feature one or two of his well-known classics, a couple of gems and a bunch of average stories. Button Button has four strong entries and some pretty good ones along with a few that weren't very impressive. No Matheson compendium would be complete without stories that were adapted for television or the big screen; there are at least three in Button Button. The title story became a movie starring Cameron ...more
Julie
I dare you to read these stories and not shout "TWIST!" at the ends.

Overall, a bit of an uneven collection but each story is so short that the stinkers don't get in your way too much. Definite brain candy but smart enough that it escapes the "guilty pleasure" category.
Katrice
Of course the standout story in this collection is Button, Button - whose final twist of the knife still blows me away and elevates it from the "obvious" morality tale. But the other stories here are excellent as well. Have to single out Dying Room Only and No Such Thing as a Vampire though for basically just showing me WHAT Matheson can do. Am mostly familiar with his fantastic tales and the way he builds suspense and mystery there (without gross out cliches) is great. Those two tales also are ...more
Heidi
This is a hard book to rate because the stories are so different they hardly seem like they belong in the same book. I much prefer the suspense of "Dying Room Only" (which I remember fondly from that great TV movie of the 70's), "Button, Button" (and I must disagree with the author on this one; the Twilight Zone version did have a better ending), and "No Such Thing as a Vampire" (probably my favourite of the bunch).

"The Creeping Terror" is actually pretty funny, as is "A Flourish of Strumpets",
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Chilly SavageMelon
Completely lame collection. I can only hope these stories didn't seem as full of chauvinistic, booze-soaked, cold war fearing, gimicky, cliche when they were written half a century ago. Anyway, they haven't aged well. And just to explain a bit about myself - not the PC type who takes issue with booze-soaked chauvinism. I often wallow in that sort of thing, when "done well", at least better than this...

I guess what brought me to this collection was an audio book of I am Legend I heard a few years
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AmberBug *shelfnotes.com*
Shelf Notes Review

Dear Reader,

I started this book awhile back but only to read one of the stories, Button, Button, which was made into a movie The Box (I never ended up watching) and was based on a Twilight Zone episode (which I have also never seen). I read the story at Borders (R.I.P.) during my many casual trips to kick back, drink some coffee and browse/read through some books. Yes, I am one of those people... but before you judge, I did end up buying this book to finish it in the end. Altho
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Tiana
Button, Button, by Richard Matheson, is about a couple who are facing fiancial problems. One day Mrs. Lewis finds a strange man at her door with a box with a button on it. He offers her a oposition, she and her husband will not hit the button, and nothing happens, or they hit the button recieve $50,000 but someone in the world, they dont know, will die. After some thinking, Mrs. Lewis presses the button. The next day the man picks up the box and tell them that the button will be reset, and will ...more
Andy
I read this book simply because I saw endorsements for the author by Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. I confess, this is my first time reading Richard Matheson. I didn't know anything about him before reading 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 (and least in this collection), which gives the stories a great pace and ads to the quickness of the reading experien
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Sarah J. Belcher
I saw the movie The Box last summer and I enjoyed it, but...I didn't get it. I don't know if I blinked or sneezed, but I missed something important because at the end, although I could piece together the obvious outcome, I wasn't sure exactly what happened. Before watching the movie, I didn't realize it was based on a short story, but afterward, I felt compelled to seek it out. Even after reading the story, I still have to wonder about some things from the movie. Thanks, Hollywood, for making a ...more
Jack
I thought this story was really interesting and it is surprising to see what people would do just to fulfill their values over there morals. In this story, it is about a Husband,Arthur and a Wife,Norma,who randomly encounters a man named Mr. Steward. Mr. Steward hands the wife a button and asks her if she would press it to kill some one randomly that she doesn't know of, but would earn 50,000 dollars. Her husband did want her to click that button, but her wife was just tempted to do so because s ...more
Rhoda
The title story in this collection was the basis for the movie "The Box," which is how it landed on my "Seen The Movie, Read The Book" shelf. The original version here isn't so much the paranoid, action thriller you might expect if you've seen the movie. It's more like a modern twist on the classic, "The Monkey's Paw." Be careful what you wish for, etc.

Not the strongest story in the bunch, IMO, but that's only because the rest of them are so very, very good. My favorite was "Shock Wave," which c
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Bookworm
The Box: Uncanny Stories is a creepy collection of twelve short stories by author Richard Matheson who also wrote I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come.
As with most short story anthologies, I enjoyed some of these tales more than others. In this collection, there were maybe two that I didn't care for.
These stories are strange and suspenseful and have supernatural and fantasy aspects to them. Most of the stories have an unexpected twist to them. I'll mention a few that I enjoyed here in my review.
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jess
Aug 22, 2008 jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Levi
Shelves: 2008, fiction
I got this book from the library after a conversation with my stepson, Levi. He was telling me about a Twilight Zone episode he had seen where you could press a button, kill a stranger, and get $50,000. I thought it sounded very familiar, and it reminded me of a story I had read.

As a child, I was a voracious reader. My parents could not afford to keep me in books, and the nearest library was 30 miles away. As a "compromise," when I spent summers with my grandparents, they would take me to book s
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El
Oct 27, 2014 El rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Belinda
Written primarily in the 1950's and 60's, the stories in Richard Matheson's collection are recognizable to many who are familiar with Twilight Zone episodes. Beginning with the title story, Button, Button - which I understand to be coming out on the big screen soon as The Box with Cameron Diaz (ew) - Matheson's stories all mostly are short and have a fun twist in the end. Button, Button in particular leaves the reader questioning what he or she might do in a similar position and other stories in ...more
Wolverina
Read Button, Button - Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson. One of many books I picked up cheap at the co-op in a sale this year (or last).

I really enjoyed I Am Legend before reading this. I think it was a book that touched on a lot of interesting ideas, but had dated a little bit too much (unfortunately) so I couldn't understand or unpick it as much as I'd like.

Button, Button is (unsurprisingly given the title) a huge pile of small stories. Most are pretty standard, being written in the late 50'
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Kate
Well, I don’t know where to begin or end with this book. I will say my reading of it started out very promisingly. It came highly recommended from a co-worker who I thought had flawless taste in books, and when I heard this author wrote I Am Legend and the first story from this collection, “Button, Button” is going to be a major motion picture, I really thought it couldn’t be better. Maybe I was wrong.

The book is basically a written version of the Twilight Zone. These stories were originally pub
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Tommy
Richard Matheson is a really interesting author in terms of style. I think, in many ways, he is a bridge between Poe and Stephen King in terms of tone and subject matter. I haven't read a lot of Stephen King but he is certainly not as dark, brooding, and foreboding as Poe was. King seems to focus more mystery, suspense, and horror (more than terror which I would put in the Poe camp). Matheson, in Button Button and the other stories in this collection, is a little bit between those worlds with a ...more
Kurt
Disappointing collection of Matheson stories reissued to tie into an illfated movie based on the title story. Of the group of stories only a couple rise above mediocre. What has always appealed to me about Matheson is his ability to take the amazing and place it amidst the very ordinary. His straightforward style creates a kind of normalcy that grounds the unreal in reality. BUTTON, BUTTON and MUTE and NO SUCH THING AS A VAMPIRE all work quite well. Can't imagine the title story being tortured i ...more
honestly mem
As with most short story collections, the quality of the work varies from story to story. Of the twelve stories contained within Button, Button: Uncanny Stories I enjoyed about half; of those six, I might reread three. It isn't as though Matheson isn't a capable writer. His prose is direct and snappy, his ideas interesting and frequently clever, but something in the overall execution left me cold.

Perhaps it's the awkward pacing: several of the stories go on for much longer than they ought to; T
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Maya
I just want to say that anyone who didn't rate this book 5 *'s is crazy because this is one the best horror books I have read! I'll admit this was a challenging book because sometimes I had to reread the stories to fully understand them. I think the author didn't write this book for 6th graders because of the language and because some of the words used were words that I've never heard of. I like how Richard uses a lot of description so I can visualize what's happening in the story. I would recom ...more
Lydia Burden
This book originally sounded like it was going to be full of stories about whether or not an individual decided to push the button; the button kills someone when it is pushed but gives the person that pushed it a large sum of money. Instead, however, the stories were about choices people had to make in order to preserve themselves. It dealt with the evil present in humanity and captured emotions very well. So if you're looking for a short, easy book, this would be it.
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  • Bumper Crop
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Born in Allendale, New Jersey to Norwegian immigrant parents, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married in 1952 and has four children, three of w ...more
More about Richard Matheson...
I Am Legend and Other Stories I Am Legend Hell House A Stir of Echoes What Dreams May Come

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