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2009 Stories 136 - 152

This next batch are all from the 1978 Stephen King collection Night Shift, and I listened to them on audiobook during my last travel swing, masterfully interpreted by actor John Glover.  The problem with talking about Stephen King short stories is that you don't want to give away whatever twists he has in store.


136. The Bogeyman.  A man haunted by the tragic deaths of his three young children just needs someone to tell the story to; even a psychiatrist will do.  I think King has explored this "what really happened" territory better in other works.

137.  I Know What You Need.  A college student is in danger of losing her scholarship until a seemingly chance encounter with a disheveled geek who gives her virtually everything she needs, whenever she needs it.

138. Strawberry Spring.  Set in late 60s Maine on a small college campus, King capably captures what it must have felt like to be in the Whitechapel area of London when Jack The Ripper was active.  This one is moody and one of my favorites.

139. Gray Matter. Drinking tainted beer can make you sick ... but how sick?  One of King's more descriptively disgusting stories.

140. The Woman In The Room.  Not really a horror piece, this one stands closer to "The Body" and "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" in the King ouvre.  When a parent is suffering, how far will we go to ease their pain?  This one really hit home for me.

141. Battleground. Accomplished hit-man vs. box of army toys.  Pretty sure this was adapted to film in "Creepshow 2." Not one of my favorites.

142. Graveyard Shift.  Rats are creepy.  Rats in the forgotten basement of an old Maine mill?  Beyond creepy.

143. The Man Who Loved Flowers.  You can almost see where this one is going before it gets there, but the twist at the end is still stunning.

144. The Last Rung On The Ladder. King likes to work with memory stories; this one is narrated by a man who has just gotten a letter from his sister that brings him back to when they used to play in the barn as kids.  Again, not a horror story per se, but one filled with dread and dramatic tension.

145. Night Surf.  Fans of King's novel "The Stand" who haven't read this story should do so.  It contains the first reference to "Captain Trips," the super-germ that is at the core of the novel.  Not my favorite King short story, but still a good look at personalities fracturing under extreme duress.

146. Jerusalem's Lot.  There's a loose connection here to the novel 'Salem's Lot, but this is one of King's attempts at a traditional gothic horror story: an old mansion, an abandoned town, and things that lurk in the walls.

147. The Lawnmower Man.  The movie version of this could not be farther from the actual story King wrote.  This one really is about a lawn-mowing service ... albeit an unusual one.

148. Sometimes They Come Back.  A classic revenge tale (ghosts with unfinished business) with a nice twist.

149. Quitters Inc.  I read this one in a different anthology last year (never did finish reading that anthology, "Prime Suspects").  Sometimes, making a life-change requires extreme measures.

150. The Ledge.  Another classic story type: the life-or-death wager.  Again, not a full-out horror story but more of a solid suspense tale: will our protagonist make it through the wager, and what will happen if he does?

I have one more story from this collection to listen to on cd, and then there were four stories that for whatever reason were not recorded by Glover that I'm going go reread in print form just to finish out the book.


And to wrap this entry up, and come completely up-to-date for the moment, two stories more:

151. Dead Man's Chest by Rachel Caine, from the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (edited by P.N. Elrod) and

152. Roman Holiday, or SPQ-arrr by Rachel Caine, from the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (edited by P.N. Elrod)

I bought the two anthologies primarily for the Jim Butcher "Dresden Files" short stories included in each, and am slowly working my way through the rest of both books, trying to read the same author in both volumes in case the stories connect.  These two tales by Caine are about a young, somewhat homely, woman swept off her feet by a handsome young man and brought aboard a mock pirate ship in order to facilitate a quick wedding.  The ship, of course, turns out to be more than it seems.  The stories work well together, and I like the concept (ghost ships eternally doing battle on the open seas but still interacting with the living world occasionally), but I'm not sure how well the concept supports continuation beyond this point without falling into repitition.  Still, Caine has a light and breezy style that makes the stories fun to read.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
caughtshort
Jun. 14th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
Ahhh...classic Stephen King shorts. I love them!

BTW - Creepshow 2 was Old Chief Wooden Head, The Raft (from Skeleton Crew), and The Hitchhiker.

Battleground was adapted, in 2006 for TNT's Nightmares and Dreamscapes, and featured William Hurt as the hitman.

The Ledge, and Quitters, Inc. were adapted in Cat's Eye, as I'm sure you recall.

Actually, I'm sure that all of the stories have been adapted at one point or another. Either for something fairly big, or for the Dollar Babies thing.





Edited at 2009-06-14 04:31 am (UTC)
talekyn
Jun. 15th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
I knew it was William Hurt, but I didn't think it had been included in Nightmares & Dreamscapes ... silly me to assume that the stories adapted in that mini-series actually came from the titular collection. *grin*
caughtshort
Jun. 15th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
Most of them did, but there were a couple in there that weren't. I think "Battleground" was the only one from Night Shift, and there were 2, I think, from "Everything's Eventual"
talekyn
Jun. 15th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. I wonder why they did that.

Then again, I also wonder why, in the John Glover "Night Shift" audiobook, they don't have him reading "Trucks," "One For the Road," "Children of the Corn" or "I Am The Doorway." The collection is already 10 cds long, I'm pretty sure another two would not have raised the sticker price that much.
caughtshort
Jun. 16th, 2009 07:39 am (UTC)
That is strange. I guess that's why they had to call it "Stories from Night Shift" instead of just "Night Shift"
talekyn
Jun. 18th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, the copyright info at the end makes it sound like this is a compilation of three shorrter recordings. That could have something to do with it too.
xjenavivex
Jul. 9th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed Strawberry Spring very much.
talekyn
Jul. 9th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten how much I loved that story, having not reread it in years ... and then there it was on the disc, and Glover does a wonderful job with it.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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