Tag Archives: Stephen King

Night Shift #16 – Children of the Corn…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 11,100

Children of the Corn has spawned about a thousand movies, which is strange considering the source material is this short story, which seems to run out of steam before the end.

A couple find themselves in one of those rural towns that King is so fond of writing about, only to discover that all the adults have been killed and the community is being run by a bunch of teenagers who worship a corn-God known as He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

It’s difficult to put Children of the Corn amongst the top tier of stories, because this deep into the anthology there have been several that are much better. This is too long and suffers from the pay-off not being worthy of the build-up. I can recommend it, but only just.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #15 – I Know What You Need…

Word count – 8,200 words

For the most part, I Know What You Need plays like a very creepy stalker story – the kind of thing that is a lot more prevalent now than it was when this was written in the early 1970s.

This mostly works, but the tale loses a little of its flavour for me in the final act, when King decides to throw some pseudo-voodoo in there to make sense of the narrative. I get it, but it just feels like he put a bow on the story when there really was no need.

I would have preferred that the story dissolved without a firm resolution, but it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise very good short piece that sits along with the best in the anthology thus far.

Recommended

It’s Not Always About Race…

Earlier this week, Stephen King sent out the following tweet:

Diversity in entertainment – be it sexual, religious, racial, gender identity, or other – is a hot topic, and potentially a minefield of political correctness and sensitivities. It’s not really a ring I want to throw my hat into, but here goes anyway…

This King tweet wasn’t just a random admission to get a reaction. For context, King is on the judging committee for the Academy Awards, and has a voice in several categories. This is in response to there being only one nominee of colour for acting at the 2020 ceremony, to be hosted next month.

I don’t think King has anything to apologise for, but he has since walked back his tweet due to the resultant backlash he received. I thought it was fairly obvious what he was saying.

If I watch one hundred movies and pick the best ten performances from them, there’s a chance all of those actors will be white. Similarly, there’s a chance they will all be black. There’s also the chance that they will all worship the same God, or that they are all homosexual. Does it matter?

I don’t want to put words into King’s mouth, but as soon as I read his comment I knew he was talking about ability and skill, and that there was no underlying subtext about trying to keep ethnic minorities down. Frankly, I’m disappointed that he got so much heat about it.

All right, sure, the number of black actors and actresses getting (or even being offered) these roles is lower, so a great white role is quite simply easier to find. That’s not racist or discriminatory – it’s just a fact. I’m not a studio head offering actors these roles and similarly, I’m not taking them away either. I don’t think it’s fair for people operating under the rules of the game to be blamed for the sins of those running it.

In most cases, the person who gives the best audition should get the role, and there’s nothing else to be considered. I say most cases because obviously a movie about – for example – the 1936 Olympics, should not have Adolf Hitler played by a black guy any more than a white guy should be playing Jesse Owens.

But where colour is unimportant to the plot or the characters – and that is most things – the best actor should get the part.

Maybe that’s an oversimplification, and I really should be more cynical, but it’s also just common sense, right?

Night Shift #14 – Quitters Inc…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 6,600 words

Quitters Inc tells the familiar tale of one man’s desire to stop smoking, and the lengths he goes to in order to do just that. On the recommendation of a friend he speaks to a very shady man who promises he can ensure he never smokes again, although his methods are a little… questionable, to say the least.

There is a campy quality here which is a little reminiscent in execution to The Ledge, from earlier in the anthology, which is certainly not a bad thing, although this has not been afforded quite the same level of skill and care.

Quitters Inc has a good story at its core, and although it is not as polished as some of the other entries in Night Shift there is enough good stuff in here to be counted as one of the better entries in the collection.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #13 – The Lawnmower Man…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpg

Word count – 3,400

The Lawnmower Man tells the simple tale of Harold in his quest (and subsequent hiring) of someone to cut his grass. That’s it. It doesn’t get much more mundane than that, does it?

It’s not a classic set-up for a horror story, but it’s one that will stick with you long after you read it, for reasons that become clear quite quickly, as Harold’s new employee has a decidely strange way of performing his job.

The Lawnmower Man is a very odd tale, but a perversely enjoyable one. It’s a horror story in the very unfiltered way that King presented in the early part of his career. Gory, gruesome, and totally bonkers, this is the author before his journey through life sanitised him and his words.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #12 – The Ledge…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 6,700

The Ledge tells the story of a man who has fallen in love with the wrong woman – by which I mean she is attached to a local mobster. As a result of this he is blackmailed into walking around the ledge of the building, forty-something floors up.

What the story lacks in action it more than makes up for with good pacing and expertly crafted tension… and of course, a pigeon that doesn’t know when to quit.

The Ledge is a great tale. If I was being picky I could say that perhaps it is overly simplistic in its delivery, and it is possibly a little truncated in places, but the core of the story is very enjoyable, and it is certainly in the top tier of the stories I have read from Night Shift so far.

Recommended ⇑

Night Shift #11 – Strawberry Spring…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 3,700

Strawberry Spring is told as a flashback tale about the murder spree at a college in the late sixties, as experienced through the eyes of one of the students.

This short story surprised me – not with the twist, because I saw that coming a mile away – but with the accomplished manner in which it has been written, given that this was originally published when King was only twenty-one.

It’s one of those stories where it doesn’t matter if you can see you ending before it happens, because predictability is not necessarily a bad thing. If it is written well – and this is – then you just have to stand up and applaud the work, and this is one of the best entries I have read so far in Night Shift.

Recommended ⇑