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Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories


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Edited by Joyce Carol Oates

Published by Library of America, 2010


Includes: The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Other Stories and Sketches

Shirley Jackson is the author of one of the most famous (or infamous) short stories of the 20th century ("The Lottery".) There are few who compare with her deft handling of the short story; Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, James Thurber spring to mind.

A recurrent theme in her stories is the anthropomorphic role of houses; they are not mere backgrounds, but are often the primary character. Her houses breathe, and brood, and often overwhelm the mere humans who occupy them. Hers are the Un-Perry Homes, with the patina of loving layers of demented generations.

Readers fond of Poe (and I was practically weaned on him) will recognize a familiar theme. Those who admire Anne Rice will be exposed to a superior mind.

Not all is eerie and gloomy; some of her stories are so laugh-out-loud funny that one should be cautious about reading them in public.

The cost is steep; I got my copy from Amazon at just under $25. It's worth it. To pick up a book and open it, and immediately know that the binding and the paper are of the best quality...it's like putting on a well-made suit, or sitting down at a well-tuned piano. Miss Jackson deserves no less.

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