Edition: Paperback, 505 Pages
Genre: Horror Short Stories
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Night Shift—Stephen King’s first collection of stories—is an early showcase of the depths that King’s wicked imagination could plumb. In these 20 tales, we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more. This is Stephen King at his horrifying best.
This is my fourth book by Stephen King and his fifth published, and so far it’s my least favorite of the lot.
I find myself somewhat unimpressed with King’s first batch of short stories, and while I seem to be in the minority with this opinion, I think that very few of these encapsulate exactly why his writing is so enjoyable. More than a few of the ideas are off the wall weird, and very few had any effect whatsoever on my mood.
My favorites of the bunch are Jerusalem’s Lot, One for the Road, and Quitters Inc. Two of which are connected to Salem’s Lot, so the idea has been fleshed out already and they didn’t suffer from the lack of pages like some of the others did. Quitters, Inc. wasn’t scary perse as it was wickedly enjoyable to see a twisted version of those programs designed to help you quit bad habits.
I think the main problem with the stories is that most of them are very forgettable. The writing is merely okay in the vast majority and a few just didn’t feel like they belonged with the others. The fact that a lot of Stephen King’s protagonists in this are men who spend most of their time in the bottle, cigarette hanging from lips, and casually contemplating hitting their significant others isn’t lost on me either. I don’t necessarily need to like the protagonist to enjoy the story, but it doesn’t hurt to make a character that I might actually miss if something horrible happens to them.
I still plan to continue reading his books, but I don’t think I understand the love for his short story writing as of yet.