Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Am Legend - the book

So in my tradition of reading the books that inspire the movies I like, I bought I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. I've seen The Omega Man and I Am Legend, and I was curious to see how the original story goes.

Matheson has written for such TV shows as The Twilight Zone, so I had high hopes. I bought the book and began.

I can see why Matheson makes a good screenwriter: his ideas are interesting and have clever little twists. But as an author of books, he has problems. He's clumsy, heavy-handed, repetitive, and fatally prone to two-dimensionality in his characters. (How many times can a character 'clench his fists in rage' before you just want to scream, "oh get over it and get ON with the freaking story!")

To put it bluntly, Richard Matheson writes like William Shatner acts.

Also, what I didn't realize was that this book (a standard paperback) was half I Am Legend and half short stories, many of which I recognized from TV. So I was a little stunned to discover, upon starting a new page, that I'd just finished I Am Legend. It was as if he'd just gotten tired of it all, and after a series of repetitive scenes where almost nothing happens (save the endless clenching of fists), he just ended it. Also, his attempt to explain the vampire legend was very weak; he stretches a lot of credibility in trying to fit the story to his clever little premise.

I'll donate this to the library. Some seventh-grader will enjoy it.


SP said...

See? You should have read "The Secret History" instead.

JC said...

Le's remember who first read Donna Tartt. On a tatami in a tiny room in Tokyo next to the gokuburi sanctuary.

SP said...

Yes, but your face did not look like much of a recommendation. And I have pictures to prove it.

JC said...

My face reflected not the book but the smell of the Canadian's microwaved sushi emanating from the kitchen, where he surfed internet porn.

Or perhaps it was the fantastically filthy toilet closet, where the thin rubber sole of my flip-flops was all that prevented me form catching some dire flesh-eating bacteria.

Or maybe it was the reaction to the look on your face when I explained that the cute little round bugs on the walls were actually baby cockroaches.

Or maybe I was just happy to be with my SP in Tokyo.

SP said...

As usual, you throw different stories together. The cute little round bugs on the walls were in an apartment we looked at in Boston. I wish you would stop embellishing with lies.

Oh, and they're called necrotizing fasciitis.

JC said...

Yeah..I remember seeing one of them crawling up the wall, and pointing it out to you. Your response, I recall, was "I know; they're all over. Aren't they cute?"

It was then that I broke the news to you that the cute little lightbulb-shaped critters with antennae were baby roaches.

And it was then that we renamed the house Gokiburi Sanctuary.

"necrotizing fasciitis?' Methinks SOMEBODY is up for Development editor of the Year Award! Just pray there's not a humility competition.

SP said...

Yeah. You and your memory. That was in Boston.

JC said...

No, Boston was when the walls and ceilings of my entire apartment were covered with fruit flies because you were all about the cooking and eating and not at all about the cleaning.

Andrew said...

He is still all about the cooking and not about the cleaning!

JC said...

Tell he more about the cleaning in his apartment? I'm formulating a theory.