Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Review: Perchance to Dream by Charles Beaumont (Penguin Classics)

Perchance to Dream by Charles Beaumont

Paperback, Penguin Classics, 304 pages

Published 2016 by Penguin Classics

A few months back I read a Penguin classics edition for Richard Matheson stories. The Penguin line is devoted to the finest voices in literature. So it is really cool that in the last couple years we have seen collection from Penguin for Lovecraft, Liggoti, Philip K. Dick and Richard Matheson. I was surprised and pleased to see Charles Beaumont get the same treatment as he died at a tragically young age and didn't get the chance to build the career that the other writers did.

This edition comes with a wonderful and personal forward by Ray Bradbury written for an earlier collection, and short but heartfelt Afterword by William Shatner who played the lead role in Beaumont's most intense film script - the Intruder.

Richard Matheson had a huge impact in TV, movies and prose. Beaumont was starting to have the same kind of success when he died looking like a 95 year old man at the age of 38. Little was know about what caused his death, and it believed that had early on-set Alzheimer.

Check Sunni and Jason Brock's Documentary on Beaumont if you want more of the story:

None the less with a couple of films including Roger Corman's masterpiece the Intruder that CB adapted from his own novel, and some of the most classic Twilight zone episodes, his work is remembered but fading. That is sad and that is why young writers would do themselves a favor and read this book.

If you read these in a 2018 context some might seem totally out of date and readers have to keep there mind on when they were written, most in the late 50's. Take for example Blood Brother, a simple but funny story about a Vampire who goes to get counseling. It might see silly that he decides to wear a cape, but this was written in 1956.

Many of my favorite stories turned out to be Twilight Zone episodes but outside of the Howling Man I had not seen them in a enough time that I didn't remember the stories.

My favorites in this book included Night Ride, The Howling Man, Place of Meeting, and the Beautiful People. Night Ride was a silky smooth tale of supernatural tied to the world of nightclub jazz. The Howling Man is probably the best episode of the twilight zone that CB wrote the concept that peace time comes because the devil is locked away in a European castle. I really enjoyed reading this tale, even though I have seen the Twilight Zone episode many times. The Beautiful People was a TZ episode with a different title, and honestly I didn't remember it. This sci-fi story written in the fifties becomes a odd surreal out of date period piece. I loved it. My favorite story however was Place of Meeting. I kinda liked the concept even though it was a little goofy.

That is the thing. I don't normally do this but I skimmed through a few goodreads reviews and read a few of the bad ones. I admit that Matheson stories felt a little more timeless. It is not just the concepts but CB pretty much always builds ALL his stories to be a twist. Can you blame him when the TZ was a huge chunk of his income? William F. Nolan is a author who came from the same circle of friends often uses the trick concept or the twist ending often. Matheson and Bradbury stories might feel more timeless because they wrote with a wider variety of style. Beaumont however was a fantastic writer and those who write Bizarro, Sci-fi or horror shorts should read this book to discover the work of a master.

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