DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Richard Matheson & Richard Christian Matheson
46 p/ $30 / Oversized (8.5 X 11") Limited Hardcover
(a lettered edition is also available)
ISBN: 1-887368-63-9

Come Fygures, Come Shadowes Richard Matheson
144 p / $40 / Limited Hardcover
(a lettered edition is also available)
ISBN: 1-87368-60-4

Lost Souls (Tenth Anniversary Edition)
Poppy Z. Brite
512 p/ $50 / Limited Hardcover
(a lettered edition is also available)
ISBN: 1-887368-59-0

All from Gauntlet Press

Gauntlet Press continues to tap Richard Matheson's rich talents with Pride(Dec. 2002) and Come Fygures, Come Shadowes (Feb. 2003). Later this year it will also publish Collected Stories, Vol. 1 and The Kolchak Scripts. Gauntlet's "Classics Revisited" line has already produced limited edition versions of Hell House, I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, Somewhere In Time, What Dreams May Come, and (in 2002) A Stir of Echoes. The publisher has also issued Hunger and Thirst, a previously unpublished first novel; a book of metaphysical ponderings, A Primer of Reality; two volumes of Twilight Zone scripts; and Abu and the Seven Marvels, a previously unpublished children's book.

That's a lot of Matheson. You have to assume there are folks out there who are completists when it comes to his work and both Pride and Come Fygures, Come Shadowes will make fine additions to their collections. Whether either book should zoom to the top of the average reader's wish list is, though, a question we must explore.

Definitive editions of classics often include worthy literary history and interesting miscellany and often have personal meaning for readers. A good example is Gauntlet's tenth anniversary limited edition of Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. This novel meant (and still means) a great deal to thousands of readers. The 512-page edition is chock-full of nifty extras: a new introduction by the author, two pages of the first typed draft of the book, a "lost" chapter from an earlier draft, a related short story, correspondence with Douglas E. Winter and eventual editor Jeanne Cavelos. Some dark hearts will surely go pitty-pat for this one.

Pride and Come Fygures, Come Shadowes, however, have no sentiment attached and not much "extra." They must stand as rarities or on quality alone.

Cover Cover Cover

Pride is a collaboration between the elder Matheson and his son, writer Richard Christian Matheson. It's an interesting study of writers and methods of writing as well as generational differences in content and approach. Both Mathesons wrote short stories based on a single idea. RM's first draft is scribbled by hand on lined paper, followed by a typed draft. RCM types first, but edits heavily by hand. Together they write a (never-produced) teleplay. Both contribute brief comments. Enjoyable and educational, but I doubt if I'd plunk down $30 for it. All is copasetic, if enough buyers do.

Come Fygures, Come Shadowes is the beginning quarter of a never-completed novel(or perhaps trilogy) that was considered in the 1960s to be "unpublishable" due to its anticipated length. Thus, if nothing else, it's a footnote about changing fashion in novel length. In his afterword. Matheson mentions a length of 2000 pages echoing a comment he made earlier in Hunger and Thirst. It's a bit unclear whether he meant manuscript or published book pages, though. If the 144-page Come Fygures, Come Shadowes is "barely one quarter" of the projected book, then wouldn't the finished project would have been around 600 pages published? Nowadays the average Stephen King novel is over 600. In any case, evidently thick books weren't in style 40 years ago and Matheson abandoned the project.

Although some of Come Fygures, Come Shadowes has already been published (30 years ago in collection, Shock Wave) this is the first time the entire novel fragment has been published. It stands on its own merits. The story revolves around a spiritualist medium and her three children, with the focus on the eldest, Claire. (The two other children were each to have their individual spotlight in the never-written second and third sections.) Claire has true psychic power and lives in fear of what it does to her. Her demanding abusive mother, to whom mediumship is God's greatest reward and joy, can not imagine the psychic gift to be a burden. The characters are well-rounded, the 1936 Brooklyn setting connects the family to the modern age rather than the Victoria era that most spiritualist-themed stories use, and -- in this portion -- spiritualism is treated as real, not as fraudulent trickery. Like Matheson, the reader comes to regret the rest of the book was never written. But is one-fourth of what might have been a good read worth $40? I suppose that depends on your book budget. ("Waves of Fear," Cemetery Dance #43)

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Copyright © 2003 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.