Passage of the day: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

legend“That was what the situation had been. Something black and of the night had come crawling out of the Middle Ages. Something with no framework or credulity, something that had been consigned, fact and figure, to the pages of imaginative literature. Vampires were passé, Summers’ idylls or Stoker’s melodramatics or a brief inclusion in the Britannica or grist for the pulp writer’s mill or raw material for the B-film factories. A tenuous legend passed from century to century. Well it was true.”

I love this passage. Even though you’re reading it yourself, from the pages of imaginative literature by an icon just like Stoker, you believe every word he says. And this as Matheson warns, is serious business. We’re not talking pretty vampires in black velvet cloaks, we’re talking real monsters. The fear I felt reading this, was the same fear I felt watching the ‘The War of The Worlds’ (1953 version) for the first time. As a ten year old child, I wasn’t entirely convinced of the fictionality of what was on my screen. As an adult reading this passage, I felt that same terror and excitement . It absolutely scared the pants off me and I immediately became immersed in Robert Neville’s world. As Stephen King similarly noted in an introduction written for ‘I am Legend’, Matheson is unrelenting and gives no ground. No story line is too harrowing or desolate, because this my smiling companions is life (monsters included) and that’s why I love this book.

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