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Hunted Past Reason [Paperback]

Richard Matheson
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 30 2010
It was supposed to be just an ordinary camping trip, two old friends hiking through the woods of northern California.  But this self-enforced isolation exposes long-hidden rivalries and resentments between the men.  The deeper they get into the wilderness, far from civilization, the greater the tension becomes–until it erupts into a terrifying life-or-death battle for survival.  Two men enter the woods, but only one will emerge alive . . . .

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From Publishers Weekly

Testosterone, envy and smoldering psychopathology transform a weekend hiking trip into a lean, mean Darwinian struggle for survival. Making the most of his trademark less-is-more style, Matheson (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, etc.) spins a clash of ideologies between two acquaintances into a vision of the universe as existential hell. Level-headed Bob Hansen is on his way up as a screenwriter and novelist; temperamental Doug Crowley is on his way down as an actor, husband and father. Doug, an experienced outdoorsman, has agreed to help Bob research his next novel with a rugged trek through the forests of northern California. No sooner has Bob's wife, Marian, dropped the pair off and headed for the cabin where they'll meet four days later than their irreconcilable differences emerge. Bob is at peace spiritually, while Doug believes "the world is a nightmare." A couple of near-death experiences a falling boulder, a threatening black bear seem to send the increasingly morose Doug into an emotional tailspin. Quicker than you can say Deliverance, Doug assaults Bob, then challenges him to reach the cabin before Doug kills him and takes Marian. Matheson makes every word count, orchestrating ordinary conversation into philosophical parries and building a thunderhead of tension from Doug's smugly superior opinions and willful misinterpretations. Through Bob's tortured thoughts during his desperate flight, Matheson strips all beauty from the wild surroundings to expose the underlying hostility and hunger in nature. Matheson's new novel shows him still the Hemingway of horror, a writer whose honed prose and primal themes articulate universal fears and dreads.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Matheson's many thrillers and fantasy novels, published over the past five decades, include Somewhere in Time (1980) and What Dreams May Come (1978). His new novel may not be quite on the same level as those classics, but it comes pretty close. Two old friends, Bob (a novelist) and Doug (an actor), head off into the woods for a short hiking trip. Bob wants some hands-on experience for a novel he's working on; Doug is an expert in woodsmanship. From the get-go, there is tension between them: Doug seems excessively demanding; Bob reacts a little too sharply to his friend's criticisms of his stamina and abilities. Soon the mood turns dark, transforming the story into a psychological thriller, a variation of Richard Connell's much-imitated Most Dangerous Game (1924). Matheson effectively translates the basic story (man hunts man) into modern psycho-thriller terms. As always, his dialogue rings true, and his narration is lean and efficient. Recommended highly, both for Matheson's large and devoted following and for all readers of suspense stories. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute terror that will have you squirming! Jan. 26 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As some of the reviewers have pointed out, this book borrows a little for Most Dangerous Game and Deliverance. Bob, a novelist, decides he wants to write a book on backpacking. An acquaintance of his named Doug, who happens to be a "serious" backpacker, suggests that the only way to write a convincing novel is to try backpacking yourself. Doug offers to take Bob on a backpacking excursion. Bob accepts the offer.
The idea is to hike through total "wilderness" for about 4 days in order to reach a cabin in the woods where Bob's wife will wait for them. Bob, knowing absolutely nothing about backpacking, and very little about Doug for that matter, lets his wife Marion drive them to a deserted spot where they can set off and meet Marion 4 days later at the cabin.
Almost from the start Doug seems to be quite bad with Bob, treating him with a superior attitude and constantly belittling his lack of knowledge for survival in the wilderness. Almost immediately Bob starts to realize that there is something deeply wrong with Doug but he is now totally dependent on Bob to survive the 4 days and make it back to civilization. Therefore, Bob has to constantly button his lip and just take whatever abuse that Doug lays on him from losing him in the woods and verbally abusing him.
The longer they go on Bob realizes that Doug has some serious psychological issues where he hates the world and seems to blame Bob for all his troubles in life. It won't be long before Doug goes over the edge and Bob will be involved in a "life and death" struggle with Doug.
Because of the reality of this book, it scarred me beyond reason! Anyone of us could be thrust in a similar situation.
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1.0 out of 5 stars May Be the Worst Book I've Ever Read June 15 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This may be the worst book I've ever read. A friend of mine bought it for me to take on an 8 day backpacking trip because the events take place on a backpacking trip - 'field research' for a novel the protagonist is to write.
The writing is simply horrible - I've read other works by Matheson but this one seems as if it were churned out as a grammar school writing assignment and penned by a rather dim student. The plot, boiled down to a single sentence, might sound suspenseful but the execution is so extraordinarily bad (and not, unfortunately, in a bad way in which you can find humor) that reading the book is sheer mental torture - having this book as my only reading material almost made me want to cancel my trek the first night out.
As other reviews here have offered a synopsis (and - shudder - praise), I'll not go into an actual review of the book. But one example of a semi-major theme - and how terribly it's handled - might help to illustrate just how bad the book is: the main character knows nothing about backpacking (or, it seems, anything having to do with flora or fauna beyond his driveway or that found in restaurants) but, for some reason, he's writing a book in which backpacking is the theme. He's deathly afraid of encountering bears, snakes, coyote, mountain lions, (and, one would assume, squirrels), etc, on this trip so, naturally, he encounters more bears, snakes, coyote, mountain lions, etc., on a three night trip than one would normally encounter in three months in the wild. And although he's quivering in his boots at each encounter he finds that he has a sort of mystical communion with these creatures due, we're led to believe, to his highly developed spiritual awareness and general good karma.
Generally I'd say that a book this bad demands to be read - but, in this case, it's such a painful read that it should be reserved for those with only the most uncontrollable masochistic tendencies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Derivative but gripping tale from an old master March 5 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The basic premise of this gripping tale is not new ;it stirs elements of the " city slicker in the wilderness " motif of "Deliverance " and the " human prey "theme of both "The Most Dangerous Game " and that neglected masterpiece of 60' s cinema "The Naked Prey "
What its veteran author does with the theme is re-invigorate it and make it new minted and fresh .
Bob , a prosperous screen writer ,happlily married to the lovely Marion and with two bright teenage kids ,conceives the idea of writing a backpacking novel and in the name of research accepts the suggestion of Doug a struggling actor to accompany him on trip into the Sierras
The relationship between the two men deteriorates -Doug is overfond of lecturing on the right and wrong way to go about the camping experience ,and the two men have diametrically opposed views on politics and metaphysical matters .
It becomes apparent that Doug is bitterly jealous of the other man -his marriage ,his children (Doug's own child had killed himself some years earlier and he is divorced )With a career on the skids and apersonal life disfigured by corrosive bitterness
he turns on Bob ,violating him and turning him loose to be hunted throught the forest mtaunting him with tales of how he intends to usurp Bob's plave with Marion
It is essentially a two character book for most of its length and the protagonists are well drawn .I am unpersuaded by some aspects of the book -Bob's almost mystic gift with animals and his rescue of a trapped mountain lion are out of place -but minor caeats apart this is splendid stuff .Lean and economical prose and a tart message about the heart of darkness that lies in us all .The experience reveals to Bob that he and Doug are not so different once survival is at issue .
Minor gem this one --I enjoyed it enormously
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars What is this?
Is it a guide to hiking or a thriller? Lack of an indentity causes the book to be skimmed and disappointment to be the result.
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by John Bowes
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible
I must admit that I've always wondered why Matheson's books are considered classics in the horror genre. Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2003 by Lester Thees
2.0 out of 5 stars Written past reason ... and then some!
Based on the many positive blurbs from other well-known writers that appeared on the cover, I picked this one up thinking it might be a grand introduction to a great writer I had... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by Jim Allen
1.0 out of 5 stars Spend Your Cash Elsewhere
This was the first book I have ever read by Matheson. I have noticed that many people say he is a very good writer, but this book certainly dispelled that allegation. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best but not the Worst
My review would actually be for 2 1/2 stars but I rounded up to be nice. The premise of this book is a good one, man against man in the primitives of nature, life and death, good... Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2003 by J. R. adams
1.0 out of 5 stars I wish I'd known
... how lousy this book was. I wish I'd thought to log in to Amazon and read the other reviews before being sucked in by the Matheson name in an airport bookstore. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2003 by Susan Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars A legendary villain
The villain in this book- 'Doug', will have you hating him by the thirteenth page. He is an egomaniacal, bitter power tripper with the goal of making Bob feel as inadequate and... Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2003 by Brad Wockenfuss
1.0 out of 5 stars I Never Thought It Possible....
The title I chose pretty much says it all-I never thought it possible for my favourite authour to have written such a book. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2003 by William A. Griffith
3.0 out of 5 stars A distant echo in the forest of Matheson's genius
Hunted Past Reason is not on a level with Matheson's earlier work, nor is it very original, but it is a fast, generally enjoyable read. Read more
Published on July 11 2003 by Daniel Jolley
2.0 out of 5 stars New Age vs. Darwinism. The horror! The horror!
After being favorably impressed with Matheson's short story, "Being," I picked up this book at my local library. The first half of the book is fast and gripping. Read more
Published on July 9 2003 by K. Smith
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