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Stephen King is a master at creating diabolical metaphors for the plight of the working man. Night Shift, in particular, is littered with tales of blue collar stiffs battling real world and supernatural disorder. “Graveyard Shift,” “The Mangler,” and “Gray Matter” all do a tremendous job of rooting the horror in the real world anxieties of the northeastern industrial working classes. “Trucks” takes the horror of industrial decline and takes it on the road for one of Night Shift’s most memorable tales.
“Battleground” and “Gray Matter” show us a young writer see-sawing between his best and worst selves, trying out different tactics and narratives, finding himself. While the excesses of “Battleground” occasionally rear their ugly heads over King’s 40+ year career, fortunately the brilliance of “Gray Matter” shows up a lot more.
Stephen King is one of the most aggressively blue collar authors ever. Despite also being one of the most successful authors ever, King protects his image as a lucky bastard milltown boy with everything he can muster. Nowhere is this more present than in his short fiction, which often centers on fish out of water college educated characters in blue collar worlds. “Graveyard Shift” from the 1977 shot collection Night Shift is perhaps the quintessential example.