Only indirectly has the coronavirus pandemic influenced my decision to read books of short stories. Indirectly because bookstores are closed and I have several such volumes gathered here at home. This particular collection includes a book “especially written for young people” called Chilling Stories from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. This is a book I had as a young person, discarded, and then regretted discarding. I have to say that most books I discard I eventually regret. When you’re young and moving from apartment to apartment, though, you can’t keep all your books. Anyway, I re-acquired it several years back. The book doesn’t list an author. Instead, the title page says “Adapted by Walter B. Gibson.” Gibson was best known for writing The Shadow series. The end result is that I don’t know who wrote the stories in this book. They have the ideas of Rod Serling, but the writing isn’t in his style.
When I buy a book (I got this one used on the internet, back when it was young) I like to know the author. WorldCat lists Serling as the author, but the book was published pre-ISBN days, back when publishers could be a bit less than transparent about such things. Other websites put Gibson first under authors, followed by Serling. The publisher, Tempo Books, was an imprint of Grosset & Dunlap, which eventually came under the Random House/Penguin umbrella. Originally publishing primarily children’s books, Tempo lists this book for young readers, although as an adult reader I wonder if it could appeal to young people today. There’s no sex and any violence is really implied rather than explicit, but there’s some adult-level subtlety going on. Books for young readers are much different these days.
Just recently my daughter introduced me to the increasing sophistication of levels of book genres. Like most readers and writers I’m encouraged at how young adult books have taken off. A future generation of readers is cause for hope. There are now “new adult books.” These are targeted at those college aged or just over. Unlike young adult titles they’ll have sex and adult language. My Twilight Zone book lacks these, and it also lacks the sparkle of Serling’s teleplays. Serling was a playwright and screenwriter. These stories clearly contain his ideas but not his ability. I didn’t know that as a child. I do know that I never finished the book before now. One of the reasons, I expect, is that it didn’t really seem like I was reading Serling, even to my young self. Still, ghost stories during a pandemic have their own appropriate place, and who doesn’t want to be young at heart?