I feel like I have to do this...
I haven't finished reading all of them included in "I Am Legend"; I stopped after the one with the funeral director and the guy who wants his own funeral while he's alive.
For me, Matheson's writing has been very dense, highly descriptive, and oftentimes so involved in prose that it either skips or I end up missing parts of the story because he hadn't bothered to cover them. I'm not faulting him for it so much as I am just complaining that it makes some stories harder to follow.
But my main point for bringing up a discussion is that many of the stories are left rather open to interpretation, or rather left without anything much at all.
I'd prefer to go by a story-by-story basis. Spoilers will follow.
I Am Legend: I understood the story, and the function of the bacterium. But I still feel confused by it. I'm not so sure why, or what it was that confused me. I think my primary issue is a sort of haziness in the difference between "living" vampires and "dead" ones. What's the difference? Just some time in which the vampires have been living?
Buried Talents: This one just blinded me. I did not get it at all. So a guy in a black coat manages to get every single ping-pong ball into the exact same empty fishbowl, doesn't want any prize except the steak knives, and suddenly as he leaves the carny guy is (presumably) dying and in massive pain. What the hell was that? I did not get this story at all.
The Near Departed: If I got it right, this one was cute in a horrifying sort of way. Reminds me of that joke with the two hunters, one calling 911 and the operator saying 'make sure he's dead' and the hunter shooting the other one. Simple and straightforward. I think. Matheson's style makes me believe perhaps there was something deeper to the story I completely missed.
Prey: Also straight-forward. I got it. I hated this story the most, though, partly because it was so senseless, just He-Who-Kills randomly wanting to kill the woman just because. What angered me the most was just how absolutely stupid the woman was. Even I didn't know that killing it would unleash its spirit, but I was still screaming in frustration at the woman's sheer stupidity "KILL THE FREAKING THING~!". I almost put down the book never to return when the woman FINALLY caught the doll, then LEFT it to go and try to open the front door.
Witch War: Another one of those that are pretty straightforward, but left me thinking I missed something that may have been beneath the surface. I also thought it was rather ridiculous, and kind of pointless. Oh hey, witches! They do magic to kill enemy soldiers in No-Name Land against No-Name People in PG Center. Why were we reading this again? Seemed like just an exercise in reading ACTION POW POW POW sequences.
Dance of the Dead: Easily the best story aside from I Am Legend. I even managed to barely grasp the whole "Popeye and Olive Oyl" alliteration (wrong word choice?) between That Guy and Peggy. Was legitimately terrified by the final pages' revelation of the meaning of the term L.U.P. Exactly the sort of feelings of loner dread when I was younger going out with friends to a place I greatly feared I wouldn't make it back home alive from.
Dress of White Silk: I think I got this one. I think. So the little girl is a vampire, right? And her mother is a vampire? And she killed Mary Jane by sucking all her blood out? That's why Granma sent her to her room and she said she didn't need supper, she was full? And why Mary Jane said her mother had buck teeth? I still feel like I totally missed something in the story. It seemed at first too easy a puzzle to figure out that the girl is a vampire, helped along further by the prevelance of vampires in "I Am Legend" itself.
Madhouse: I greatly enjoyed this one. I thought it should be longer. And I think it would be a great movie, or TV short, if expanded some. My main problem was that it was a little too short to get too in-depth. Also, I had had a feeling that maybe Chris Neal should have realized that the whole traumatic experiences he was having was JUST what he needed to write a story! Every so often it would have inner monologue paragraphs that were almost like poetry in their succintness and description of his anger.
I felt like I missed something from the end, too. The whole "psionic anger transmitting to animate his house with anger" thing felt a little contrived, but with potential, and the ending was for me, too open to interpretation. I could easily imagine beating up a friend for interpreting it stupidly ("The house came alive~!"), while my interpretation was that his anger had quite literally driven him insane, and he went to kill himself, but in his psychotic state, believed the house was trying to kill him.
Funeral: This one was just like Buried Talents in that I did not get it at all. For the story, I got a big guy wants a funeral for himself, but without dying. He brings his friends to it, who keep making noise and stupidity, and then the woman kills one of them and "accidentally" sets the room on fire. Then a tentacle monster appears at the end for his own funeral. The hell? Seriously... someone please explain this one and "Buried Talents" to me, because this completely flew over my head.
The rest I have not yet read. Discuss, please.