Night Shift is the first collection of stories that Stephen King published, way back in 1978, and after reading it over the last six months I come away quite happy with the content. There are no blow-you-away fantastic stories here – although several are very good – but more importantly, there are none that really shit the bed either.
I recommended sixteen of the twenty short stories in Night Shift, and of the four that I gave a red arrow to, the only one I really struggled to get through was the first story in the collection – Jerusalem’s Lot. Others may get into this one more, but I just couldn’t stomach the language for the length of time King asked me to do so.
Although I recommended 80% of these stories, they are not all of the same high quality. The Last Rung on the Ladder is hands down the best story here – simple in execution, with a haunting and perfectly played pay-off. Just below it on the totem pole are Battleground and the serial killer tale, Strawberry Spring. Just below those I’d put vertigo-inducing The Ledge and The Man Who Loved Flowers. They are the five stories here that I would recommend to any fan of Stephen King.
Night Shift is a good collection, and crucially, most of the best stories in this anthology – with the exception of Battleground – are not in any way supernatural or out-of-this-world, whereas the stories I liked the least were not grounded in reality at all. Subjective, sure… but it is worth mentioning.
Hi! I enjoy your blog. I’ve come to regard ‘Jersusalem’s Lot’ as the most impressive of the lot (no pun intended). I find it rich and evocative, despite its antiquated verbiage and obvious Lovecraftian pastiche. It comes across, in my opinion, as a work of an extremely talented and youthful writer flexing his chops, attempting to capture an atmospheric moment in the tradition of the gothic epistolary form. And I think King pulls it off for the most part. I used to think the story was unrealistic in the sense of who the hell would write such descriptive letters–letters so blatantly novelesque in terms of narration and dialogue and foreshadowing, etc. But then I realized that Charles Boone, in the tale, was himself depicted as a novelist. It is my understanding the tale has been picked up as a ten-part drama series at Epix beginning in May 2020.
Thanks for your comment, Paul. I get what you are saying about ‘Jerusalem’s Lot’, it just didn’t jive with me. I don’t have an issue with the style, or the way in which it has been written, but it felt like that became the story, rather than the content of the narrative. It’s all subjective, or course, but I’m happy to read any opposing views.