Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review: A Stir of Echoes

Like most people, I’ve seen a lot of movies based on books well before I ever got around to the novel, if at all. Often the film ruins any exciting plot twists you might have found in the book so there is even less of a reason to pick up the original work. But sometimes…

A few years back while in Germany I read Robert Bloch’s Psycho, a book that has become one of the most famous films ever made. Yes there is a secret ending, yes it is incredible, no I will not spoil it for the six or seven people out there who don’t know (it is that cool), so you would think that the original novel would have little to offer a reader who is “in the know.” To my surprise, that book was fantastic, scaring me almost all the way through, and surprising me in story elements that would not have translated well into the medium of film.

Two years ago I read Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, and the same thing occurred; even though I had seen the Polanski film at least five times, the book brought a wicked sense of humour to the material that I was not expecting and totally enjoyed.

This brings me to my current book, A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson. Like most people, I saw the 1999 Kevin Bacon film first (and yes I’ve won more than a few games of six degree of Kevin Bacon using this film or Tremors as a link; interesting note, Serious SDoKB players consider it a cheat to connect through star-studded films like JFK or Apollo 13). It’s kind of funny actually, as at the time the film came out there was a sort of backlash against it, saying it was basically a rip-off of The Sixth Sense, which is funny, because the book is based off of a novel published forty years earlier in 1958.

The book is actually a lot of fun, definitely helped by the fact that I saw the movie more than a dozen years ago so the story seems a little fresher. Add to that the fact that the victim and the killer are different in the novel than in the movie, and you end up with a story even someone who just saw the movie could still enjoy today.

This is the six Richard Matheson novel I’ve read in the last half year (the others were Someone is Bleeding, Fury on Sunday, Woman, I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man) and I love reading any authors work in order of publication because I get to see them grow as an artist. The book is quite good, and makes me want to go back and check out the movie again.

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