was one of first King books I ever owned, and the first "regular" book I ever read at least part of (though Cycle of the Werewolf
came first.) I remeber being shaken by the twist ending of "The Man Who Loved Flowers," realizing that there was a darker world out there in what we see every day. I read my first Night Shift stories when I was twelve, at the cusp of reading as an adult. It wasn't a bad place to start.
This is King's shortest short fiction collection. His later such collections -- Skeleton Crew
and Nightmares & Dreamscapes
) were far bigger, containing larger stories and more complex interlockings. While I consider Skeleton Crew King's best collection (mainly due to the interweaving of several stories and the absolute stellar quality of its good stories), that book had some clunkers that brought the overall work down (see "Beachworld.") Night Shift remains King's only collection in which every story is a winner on some level. There's not a bad tale in the bunch.
Those seeking an introduction to early King, there really is no better place to start. At this stage of his career, he was focusing on updating old horror ideas to modern settings; most of his novels' themes pre-1985 can be seen in miniature in this collection (especially the direct precursor to The Stand
, "Night Surf." And don't overlook the pre- and sequal to 'Salem's Lot
, "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road.") New and more complex themes King will explore later; for now, he's keeping things simple and at this point, that's all that matters.