Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Night Shift

Night Shift 
Originally published February 1978

Not every author can master a short story.  Many try but fail to produce that story that grabs you and leaves you thinking about it.  Stephen King is the exact opposite.  Over the years, he seems to churn out these bite size stories that leave you breathless!  Night Shift is the first compilation of short stories SK released. Many had been published in magazines prior to the books release, but for the purpose of this reread, I added these stories based on the actual book's release date.

As with many SK stories, he likes to include snippets or "Easter eggs" of characters or information from previous stories. This collection of short stories is no different.  We kick off with Jerusalem's Lot, a story that takes us back (in place) and back (in time) from Salem's Lot.  It was an interesting prequel to Salem's Lot.  I loved getting the beginning story of Jerusalem's Lot and the "residents" from there.  The history of the family that seems to be drawn to the area made this story particularly interesting.  SK, as usual, adds his touches of humor to the story   I love that the characters thought the "things going bump in the night" were rats. You could almost hear them thinking "those are some big fucking rats!"  The flip side to this short story is One for the Road.  Now we get a story that takes place after Salem's Lot.  As much as I liked, Jerusalem's Lot, I LOVED One for the Road.  Suspenseful and compelling.  You know it is not going to end well. You see it coming pages before the end, but you just can't put the story down. You have to see what happens to that poor family. SK delivers a wonderfully descriptive ending that leaves you seeing the terror unfold. Excellent story.

Even though we haven't gotten far enough into the reread to have included The Stand yet- I must point out the story Night Surf.  It is an intriguing post-apocalyptic story of a group of "survivors" who have lived through a virus called "Captain Tripps" that wipes out most of the population.  Sound familiar?  No? Well it will soon if you are reading along with me.  It does make me want to ask Mr. King himself "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?"  I haven't researched this story to see if it is the actual idea behind The Stand or was The Stand in the works already and this short story sort of jumped off in the sidelines?  Either way, it is a great addition to Night Shift.

Not all the stories are SK's best. But that is to be expected.  It is hard to pull the reader into every short story and make them feel compelled to care about the characters in such a short amount of time.  The Mangler stands out as one of the weaker stories. Or I could just be jaded over the fact I actually went to the movies to see that monstrosity when it came out. Hubby and I hid in our seats till it was over, we were so embarrassed to be there. Ah, such is my love for SK that I volunteer to sit through shit movies that have his name attached to them.

I can't conclude this review without including some thoughts on Children of the Corn.  Probably one of the creepier stories of the bunch.  A poor couple happen upon a nearly deserted town to discover it is being run by "evangelical" children who sacrifice themselves to a corn demon?  The imagery depicted as the children chase Burt through the corn while carrying sickles and machetes is horrifying.  A perfect mix of horror, creep and gore. For what it is worth, Children of the Corn is one of the better adaptions of an SK story into a movie. If you haven't seen it, you should. That kid who played Malachai was batshit crazy and absolutely outstanding! He still gives me the creeps!

All in all, if you are a fan of short stories, Stephen King will not disappoint!  He is a master of making each one count and grab you from the beginning.  I find these short story collections to be such fun reads. You can usually get through one a night.  It leaves you going to bed digesting the events you just took in, and then on to the next the following day. Perfect if you ask me!


  1. I still have nightmares after reading this set. - B

  2. This series did contain some good one didn't it?