Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Mad House"

I just finished a longish short story by Richard Matheson that was very good. It's called "Mad House," and involves an English teacher whose goal has long been to write but who never seems to get around to it. Yet, it's never his fault, you see. He has papers to grade, or his wife is holding him back, or reading poor student work has tainted him, or....well, you get the picture. As we find out in the story, of course, he has ample time to write if only he would sit down and do it. But he makes excuses, and his anger and frustration at himself makes him lash out at everyone and everything around him. I have to admit to a little chill here and there throughout the story as I heard the narrator's words coming out of my mouth. I'm certainly not as bad as the story's narrator, but I've made plenty of excuses for my own lack of productivity. It's a good piece of writing that holds a mirror up to our own faces.


Sphinx Ink said...

Chilling, indeed...I thought the story must be about ME--except so far I haven't lashed out in anger and frustration (unless you count being angry at myself for my nonproductivity).

Sidney said...

Uh oh, I don't have that one in either Shock Waves or The Incredible Shrinking Man and other stories. Will have to look for it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sid, I bought a Matheson book from the Science Fiction book club that contains I am Legend and Hell House. I didn't know it had some short stories as a bonus but that's where I found "Mad House."

Ms. Sphinx, maybe the story is about us all.