TK421's Reviews > Shock II

Shock II by Richard Matheson
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's review
Dec 21, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories
Read in April, 2012

Richard Matheson is a pillar within horror fiction. But unlike some of today's over-the-top horror writers (I will omit names, but you know of whom I speak), Matheson's approach to writing horror was a stripped down, psychological endeavor. His stories unnerved readers. His stories made readers think. Combine these two attributes--unnerving and thinking--and it is not a stretch to say that Matheson was successful because even when the reader was to "justify" a story within their mind, Matheson "rewired" the reader to experience a new way of thinking and deciphering and displaying the world. In this collection, SHOCK II does this in spades. From the opening story "A Flourish of Strumpets," a story about man's unquenchable desire of the flesh, to the story "No Such Things as a Vampire," a story that might be one of the best revenge stories I have ever read, Matheson takes the fantastic and embeds it into realistic settings.

But Matheson doesn't just look at the fantastic. In the story "Descent" Matheson takes a look at the status of the Cold War, and gives his own commentary about the subject. Normally, I would think a story like this would be outdated; this is not the case...I dare say that this story is more prescient today concerning nuclear annihilation (I'm looking at you North Korea) than when it was written. Additionally, Matheson has fun in his storytelling. Within this collection, there are pieces that are written in the format of a play ("The Man Who Made the World"), and as epistolary ("Graveyard Shift"); and these pieces lose none of their oomph because of these playful formats. That might be because Matheson was a genius with a pen. But I digress.

All things considered, Matheson makes storytelling fun, but he can also deliver a poignant, heartfelt story of family, and the travails of family, as the story "Lazarus II" depicts. When reading this story I was torn between hating the mother, and hating the fact that, as a parent, I sometimes have to remind myself that my children's lives are not my own, they are their's, period.

Thirteen tales. 192 pages. Read them as a whole, or devour them over a few weeks. Regardless how you enjoy these stories, I'm willing to bet that you'll find yourself looking for more of Richard Matheson the next time you decide to haunt your favorite bookshop or library.

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