Taking Notes: Various voices on Richard Matheson

In Stanley Wiater (ed.), Richard Matheson: Collected Stories Volume One (Colorado Springs, CO: Edge Books, 2003)

p. 43
Ray Bradbury:
Perhaps the most immediate thing one would note about Richard is that no one label fits him. Which is all to the good. Whether he is writing the weird, the horror, the science-fiction or the fantasy tale, all are more than each label implies. He is, in sum, a mainstream writer. Take my word for it and forget all the malarkey that the New York snob critics publish about all of us.
p. 115
Robert Bloch:
Matheson's skill in creating empathy lends special strength to his work. Capturing our credibility with believable characters helps to make their predicaments seem equally plausible. The secret weapon he employs in his own sensitivity to the fears and innermost imaginings which are common to us all.


In my introduction thirty years ago, I wrote, "Here is science fiction that needs no apology to the aesthete; here is fantasy, fullbodied, with the wit, the wisdom and the wonder of a truly creative imagination. Here, incongruously installed against a background of illusion, is utter honesty. That, in my opinion, is the secret of the art of Richard Matheson."

In Stanley Wiater (ed.), Richard Matheson: Collected Stories Volume Two (Colorado Springs, CO: Edge Books, 2005)
p. 317
George Clayton Johnson:
That's his secret: He makes you experience what his characters go through.

That's his art: He continually finds the telling detail that will pull you in microscope close, that will make you see and believe.

That's his power: He convinces you he is telling the truth and not making anything up.

You may hardly notice that he rivets you with a terse, vibrant prose that is highly compressed -- no word left unpolished, nor that his sentences look carved into the page -- open, clear and uncluttered, alive with energy.

You may not notice his magical use of white space -- very few are aware of such dynamic niceties. You may be one who only cares whether the story cools your blood, wires your nerves, fills you with dread and enlarges your consciousness.

But whether you view these particular stories through the eyes of a writer who hopes to comprehend the technical brilliance of sometimes sharper sensors, the nerve-ends, you can hardly fail to be aware that you are dealing with an electric intelligence of an original mind.

In Stanley Wiater (ed.), Richard Matheson: Collected Stories Volume Three (Colorado Springs, CO: Edge Books, 2005)
p. 223
Stephen King:
He [Richard Matheson] single-handedly regenerated a stagnant genre [horror], rejecting the conventions of the pulps which were already dying, incorporating sexual impulses and images into his work as Theodore Sturgeon had already begun to do in his science fiction, and writing a series of gut-bucket short stories that were like shots of white lightning.

What do I remember about those stories.

I remember what they taught me; ...... No retreat, baby, no surrender. I remember that Matheson would never give ground. When you thought it had to be over, that your nerves couldn't stand any more, that was when Matheson turned on the afterburners and went into overdrive. He wouldn't quit. He was relentness. The baroque intonations of Lovecraft, the perfervid prose
p. 224
of the pulps, the sexual innuendoes were all absent. You were faced with so much pure drive that only re-readings showed Matheson's wit, cleverness, and control.
p. 291
Dennis Etchison:
Matheson is and always has been a writer's writer. His influence, a singularly compelling voice that runs through the contemporary history of science fiction, terror and horror literature, is better left for assessment by scholars and critics. For now it is enough to say that his courage, his measured understatement and his refusal to court fashion by accommodating popular trends exemplify and integrity that is unsurpassed in the commercial arena. His novels are relentless in their intensity, written in the cold sweat of absolute conviction; his screenplays are models of structural economy, tightly suspenseful without sacrificing larger meanings; and his short stories are tours de force, demonstrating the strength of obsessive narrative freed from stylistic indulgence.

His work provides an ideal to which I have aspired since I discovered it in the Fifties, and I have not yet begun to approach its power. I have learned more from him about what is important on the printed page and what is not -- how to eliminate unnecessary words in
p. 292
favor of white space, how to cut a story to the bone so that characters have room to breath and take shape in a reader's imagination -- than from any other living writer. ......

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