A.J.'s Reviews > Night Shift

Night Shift by Stephen King
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Mar 24, 10

bookshelves: fiction
Read in March, 2010

It's something that's hardly worth saying about a short story collection, but I'll say it anyway: some were better than others.

There. Now that we have that out of the way, I'll keep this short and sweet. I detected quite a few influences in this collection. "Graveyard Shift" might as well have been called "Ode to Poe" and "Jerusalem's Lot" tasted of Bram Stoker's Dracula. There were also a few yarns that would later evolve into novels. "Night Surf" would become The Stand, though the only character repeated is the flu virus with the annoying name of Captain Trips (which in the short story had a more official-sounding and less irritating synonym, A-6). Also the long-winded and underwhelming "Jerusalem's Lot" was fated to become and even longer, lamer, and more underwhelming novel, 'Salem's Lot.

My personal favorite of the bunch was "Gray Matter", the most original and poorly written in the collection. A fat guy on disability drinks an infected beer and begins to transform into a fungal creature that abhors sunlight and devours dead animals. What's not to like? "Quitters, Inc.", possibly the most popular of them all, was also fantastic.

In between the best and the worst was a broad range of genres and themes. One is a simple personal tragedy free of any bells and whistles; the next is speculative sci-fi/horror with a dash of grass-eating magical creatures thrown in for good measure. Stephen King succeeds in flexing his imaginative muscle, pays homage where homage is due, and cranks out more than a few memorable and satisfying shorts.

Four stars. I wouldn't put my stamp on every tale in here, but I can tell you one thing. If you have fourteen hours of car ride ahead of you, King will ease the burden with this written variety show.

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