Fungi From Bob’s Discount Beer: Stephen King’s “Gray Matter”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Stephen King’s “Gray Matter,” first published in the October 1973 issue of Cavalier and later collected in Night Shift. Spoilers ahead.

“Can you feature that? The kid all by himself in that apartment with his dad turning into… well, into something… an’ heating his beer and then having to listen to him—it—drinking it with awful thick slurping sounds, the way an old man eats his chowder: Can you imagine it?”


In a sleepy town near Bangor, Maine, Henry’s Nite-Owl is the only 24-hour store around. It mostly sells beer to the college students and gives old codgers like our narrator a place to “get together and talk about who’s died lately and ...