The Shrinking Man

The Shrinking Man



The Pequod Review:

The Shrinking Man is a science fiction novel about a man (Scott Carey) who accidentally ingests a chemical that causes him to gradually shrink at the rate of one-seventh of an inch per day. Despite the simple premise, Richard Matheson’s story has considerable psychological depth, as he explores the impact on Scott’s masculinity and role as a husband:

Then, when he got home, Louise cornered him in the kitchen, insisting that he go back to the Centre to finish the tests. She'd work, they'd put Beth in a nursery. It would work out fine. Her voice was firm in the beginning, obdurate; then it broke and all the withheld terror and unhappiness flooded from her. He stood by her side, arm around her back, wanting to comfort her but able only to look up at her face and struggle futilely against the depleted feeling he had at being so much shorter than she. All right, he'd told her, all right, I'll go back. I will. Don't cry.

Later, Matheson captures Scott's shame and inadequacy when he is unable to perform sexually:

"Hold me, Scott," she said.

He sat motionless for a few seconds, chin down, the fixed dullness of his eyes sealing the mask of defeat that was his face. Then he drew back his right hand and slid it behind her; it seemed as if the hand would never reach her other side. His stomach muscles flexed in slowly. He wanted to get up from the couch and leave. He felt puny and absurd beside her, a ludicrous midget who had planned the seduction of a normal woman. He sat there stiffly, feeling the warmth of her body through the silk. And he'd rather have died than tell her that the weight of her arm across his shoulders was hurting him.

The book also has several excellent and highly realistic action scenes involving cats, spiders and other nemeses. Highly recommended.