Night Shift Review

Night Shift - Stephen King

First read this collection when I was... twenty, I think. Not sure. Does it matter? Probably not. Three things to mention before hitting you with my one sentence reviews: I forgot how much of King's early work tied into these stories, and how much I enjoyed his non-horror outings. Truth be told, I probably didn't like the more literary stories that I read once upon a when because I was a tried and true idiot in those days (I'm still an idiot, but my wife turned me into a functioning idiot, and I say thankee sai). Finally, this is probably the most fun anyone will ever have with a King collection. There are stories in here that are simply fucking cool. The concepts are fun, even if they are a tad bit violent, but there's a heaping helping of humor to go along with the sadness and the terror. I don't think any other collection, novella, or novel of his can match the sheer entertainment factor of this, his first published collection. You might disagree; and if you do, give some examples in the comment section. Once again, I know there's scarier and more moving stories of his out there, but do you think any of them are thing much fun? 


On with the single-sentence reviews:


"Jerusalem's Lot" - King's first attempt at Lovecraft fan fiction is a three-star outing for me because of the epistolary style, which I don't like.



"Graveyard Shift" - Four stars worth of nasty fun that shows King's not opposed to the time-tested rule of get in, get dirty, and get out.


"Night Surf" - A four-star jaunt back into a Captain Trips-ravaged world that I dug quite a bit.


"I am the Doorway" - A tasty tidbit of sci fi horror that gets under your skin and explains that the cover you see above is quite literal in this four-star outing.


"The Mangler" - Five demon-possessed pieces of industrial laundry equipment out of five for being the goriest thing I've read all year. 


"Grey Matter" - I'm going deeper into this one. I believe this story was the catalyst to great many things in the King-verse. The "Grays" from Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher make an appearance, as well as a little story about a man going into a Bangor sewer to find a giant spider. The man comes out with his hair white as snow, and dies two years later, crazy as a shithouse rat. Of course these are only my theories, but I'm giving this story five stars based on possible coolness factor alone.


"Battleground" - Ten pages and four star's worth of big fun that any kid who's ever played with little green army men will enjoy. 


"Trucks" - Three stars for the story that inspired the movie Maximum Overdrive, that B-movie masterpiece penned by King himself. 


"Sometimes They Come Back" - Two stars for this predictable little ditty that never has struck the right chord with me.


"Strawberry Spring" - This five-star number is probably up there in my top ten Stephen King shorts; short stories, not the man's knickers. 


"The Ledge" - A different kind of three-star thriller that makes me wonder why King has written two tales (the novel Cujo, and this seventeen-page story) about a woman who has an affair with her tennis instructor. 


"The Lawnmower Man" - This two-star pile of offal was turned into a movie so horrible, King himself requested his name be stricken from the credits, but the story was just as bad as the movie, even though neither one had shit to do with the other.


"Quitters, Inc" - I honestly cannot believe that the same man who wrote "The Lawnmower Man" wrote "Quitters, Inc.", because this five-star tale of willpower and familial love is altogether a horse of a different color.


"I Know What You Need" - This three-star read first appeared in Cosmopolitan, and that's all I have to say about that.


"Children of the Corn" - My favorite story in this collection easily gets all the stars, because kids and corn are scary, yo!


"The Last Rung on the Ladder" - Well that one was a mule kick to the feels, so I guess it gets all the stars too.


"The Man Who Loves Flowers" - Gets four stars based on nostalgia factor alone, as I believe it's the first short story of King's that I ever sampled. 


"One for the Road" - The second to last story in this collection gets four stars simply for being a companion to 'Salem's Lot.


"The Woman in the Room" - Is an emotionally driven four-star effort that hits a little too close to home for me.


Notable names:


This time around, King references his other books in multiple ways, but mostly by the towns that would come to host some of his most famous works. Below you will find a list of these towns, and any names that struck a chord with me.


Hemingford Home


Jerusalem's Lot

Gates Falls



Patrick Hockstetter (this name pops up all throughout the King-verse, but I don't think it's the same person every time, mainly because, when he's just a teen, Hockstetter dies at the hands of Pennywise, yet he goes on to write a book that's referenced in Carrie then becomes a scientist in Firestarter.)


In summation: Probably the most fun you will have with Stephen King. From animated army men to great beasts that tromp behind the rows, this collection is sure to please. Highly ecommended.


(Author's note: I said I wouldn't be doing his collections during my massive reread of King's catalog, but I'm well ahead of schedule, so here you go. I plan on doing a decade of Kingly works every three months. I started in October, and have read everything he published between 1974 and 1984. Aside from Different Seasons, I'm all caught up with that time period. I think I'll do the audio books of those next...)