Richard Christian Matheson, ‘Last Words’ (2011)

The anthology closes with this short (four-page) piece whose narrator reflects on the value of preparing some god last words for oneself (‘All books have an important final line. All movies have one. So should a life,’ p. 425) – but, though the sentiment may be reasonable, the nature of and reasons for the narrator’s interest in the matter are more disturbing. As a piece of fiction, I’m not sure that ‘Last Words’ achieves a great-enough density of language to balance poetry and gruesomeness.

Rating: ***

Richard Christian Matheson’s website


  1. “I’m not sure that ‘Last Words’ achieves a greta-enough density of language to balance poetry and gruesomeness.”

    Sounds like a tough task to achieve. I don’t really do horror but I’d be curious to know if you have come across any works that were successful that regard.

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    2nd December 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I guess it is a difficult balance to strike, because in some ways the two qualities oppose each other. But I have seen it done: Valerie O’Riordan’s Bristol Prize-winning story “Mum’s the Word” is not strictly horror, but it deals with very ugly subject matter in a beautiful way. In genre horror, Conrad Williams springs to mind as an author who can go to some extreme places without seeming gratuitous, because he understands the weight of what he’s writing about.

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