Monday, December 22, 2014

You CAN go home again

You CAN go home again

I have several Stephen King books on my keeper shelf. For sheer storytelling power he's extraordinary in every way that matters.

I still read just about every book he publishes and enjoy most of them. In the last three months or so I reread Salem's Lot, Misery, The Mist and From a Buick 8. And last night, for no particuar reason, I picked up his first collection Night Shift.

Yes, he got better as a writer, much better in fact. But I tell you this book has a mesmeric hold on me. I don't exaggerate when I say that I've read some of these stories twenty times. They're almost like saying the rosary for me.

Graveyard Shift still creeps me out; I Am The Doorway is an acid nightmare; Sometimes They Come Back is an Evan Connell-like portrait of personal and professional failure tucked inside a stunning horror tale; Strawberry Spring and I Know What You Need presage the later, more sophisticated work; The Ledge and Children of The Corn demonstrate his mastery of pulp tropes; and The Woman in the Room is the sad, gripping masterpiece of the collection.

This is one of those books to keep permanently on the nightstand. Whatever kind of fiction you like, you'll find an example of it in Night Shift. It's a special treat for writers. Nobody in popular fiction has ever equaled King's rolling thunder approach to the job of telling a story. He's like a prize fighter who can hit you three times before you get your guard up. These stories have the effect of blunt force trauma on me. I think they'll have the same effect on you.

1 comment:

James Reasoner said...

My good friend Leland DeBusk came over to my house one day in the early Seventies, pressed a copy of NIGHT SHIFT into my hands, and said, "You HAVE to read this." Forty years later I still remember most of the stories. Wonderful stuff.