Quite possibly one of the best collections of short stories.
Dec 23, 2009
Night Shift is a collection of short stories written by Stephen King. This was one of my first books and I read it until the covers came off (I'm serious). His Lovecraftian influences are very heavy in this omnibus of terror. Several of these stories have been adapted either for television, the silver screen or student dollar baby productions. Future filmmaker Frank Darabont directed an adaptation of "The Woman in the Room (the first of several King adaptations). Almost all of these stories have been featured in Men's magazines such as Cavalier, Gallery and Penthouse. The following review has brief spoilers detailing the stories that are featured in Night Shift.
The first story is called "Jerusalem's Lot" a prequel of sorts to the novel 'Salem's Lot. King is in full on HP mode as he tells the tale of evil attracting evil. "Graveyard Shift" is another HP influenced tale about a factory that houses it's own dirty secret several floors beneath it's surface. A young roustabout matches wit with his greasy boss in a midst a sea of vermin. "Night Surf" is a homage of to the novel Earth Abides and a spin-off of "The Stand". Captain trips makes it's rounds around the globe exterminating human life. "I Am the Doorway" is a Ray Bradbury-ish tale about a crippled astronaut who brought back to Earth a nasty souvenir from space. "The Mangler" is about a killer Industrial laundry machine. "The Boogeyman" is another HP style tale about an loser who's fears and guilt come back to haunt him. "Gray Matter" is about a mutated bacteria that morphs itself inside of a fat beer swill drinking lout and becoming something straight out of a 50's B-movie.
"Battleground" is about the last night of a hit man who experiences a taste of his own medicine. "Trucks" was adapted into two films (One directed by King himself called Maximum Overdrive) and is about machines revolting and having a mind of their own. "Sometimes The Come Back" tells the story of a high school teacher who's haunted by ghost of the past. "Strawberry Spring" is the time of a young man's life during a warm "false" spring when certain homicidal tendencies come out. "The Ledge" deals with a wealthy gambler who wagers a deadly bet with the man who has been sleeping with his wife. "The Lawnmower Man" has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. The story deals with a lazy middle class man who hires a strange landscaping company to mow his lawn. "Quitters Inc." is the name of a company that employs Mob tactics to help their clients quit smoking. "I Know What You Need" is about a bookish sociopath who pines after a girl she once knew in grade school. "Children of the Corn" is about a cult of children who worship a monster who lives in a cornfield. "The Last Rung on the Ladder" deals with a man who's guilt over being unable to save his little sister. "The Man Who Loved Flowers" is about a homicidal maniac that buys expensive flowers and stalk women who look like his lost love. "One for the Road" is an epilogue of sorts for 'Salem's Lot". "The Woman in the Room" is a quasi-biographical story that deals with a son and her dying mother.
I really enjoyed this collection and it got me started reading horror fiction. If you enjoy Stephen King or short stories then you'll want to read this book (if you haven't already).
I figured that I would try the Short Story route with Mr. King the second time around. Although there are some very good stories, there are a few clunkers which just did not maintain my interest. Jerusalem's Lot just never seemed to grab my attention and merely seemed to be a blah blah blah in my memory blanks. Night Surf does not say anything of consequence and Trucks is incredibly insane where nothing connects. It just seems as if the Trucks go crazy destroying everything yet how does one man … more