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1. Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories
2. The Lottery and Other Stories
3. Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected
4. The Lottery and Other Stories,
5. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
6. The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin
7. Life Among the Savages
8. Come Along with Me
9. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley
10. The Witchcraft of Salem Village
11. The Masterpieces of Shirley Jackson
12. Raising Demons (Large Print)
13. The Sundial
14. The Lottery
15. A bibliographical guide to the
16. The Haunting Of Hill House
17. The Haunting of Hill House: A
18. Life among the savages ; Raising
19. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
20. Sundial

1. Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (The Lottery / The Haunting of Hill House / We Have Always Lived in the Castle)
by Shirley Jackson
Hardcover: 832 Pages (2010-05-27)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$17.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1598530720
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable," writes A. M. Homes. "It is a place where things are not what they seem; even on a morning that is sunny and clear there is always the threat of darkness looming, of things taking a turn for the worse." Jackson's characters-mostly unloved daughters in search of a home, a career, a family of their own-chase what appears to be a harmless dream until, without warning, it turns on its heel to seize them by the throat. We are moved by these characters' dreams, for they are the dreams of love and acceptance shared by us all. We are shocked when their dreams become nightmares, and terrified by Jackson's suggestion that there are unseen powers-"demons" both subconscious and supernatural-malevolently conspiring against human happiness.

In this volume Joyce Carol Oates, our leading practitioner of the contemporary Gothic, presents the essential works of Shirley Jackson, the novels and stories that, from the early 1940s through the mid-1960s, wittily remade the genre of psychological horror for an alienated, postwar America. She opens with The Lottery (1949), Jackson's only collection of short fiction, whose disquieting title story-one of the most widely anthologized tales of the 20th century-has entered American folklore. Also among these early works are "The Daemon Lover," a story Oates praises as "deeper, more mysterious, and more disturbing than 'The Lottery,' " and "Charles," the hilarious sketch that launched Jackson's secondary career as a domestic humorist. Here too are Jackson's masterly short novels: The Haunting of Hill House (1959), the tale of an achingly empathetic young woman chosen by a haunted house to be its new tenant, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), the unrepentant confessions of Miss Merricat Blackwood, a cunning adolescent who has gone to quite unusual lengths to preserve her ideal of family happiness. Rounding out the volume are 21 other stories and sketches that showcase Jackson in all her many modes, and the essay "Biography of a Story," Jackson's acidly funny account of the public reception of "The Lottery," which provoked more mail from readers of The New Yorker than any contribution before or since.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Bedtime Reading
Far from great literature, Shirley Jackson's pieces stand as cultural sketches, an historical testimony to America as it was in the 1940s and 1950s. Her characters live in a world where conformity is prized, social conventions are strictly adhered to-- a time when "wearing white before Labor Day" constituted a faux pas that raised eyebrows in the Town Square. "What will the neighbors think?" was of critical importance. The highest commendation the community could bestow on an individual was the general consensus that one "fit in."

This is obviously the pre-1960s world --hallmarked with little tolerance for idiosyncrasies or oddity. Jackson's heroines are invariably timid souls trying to maintain and shelter their tender insularity, while trying to make their way in a universe of crass, heartless reality. They go through the day, with downcast eyes, trembling inside, praying that others will not brand them foolish and deficient.

Jackson's most popular story seemed to be "The Lottery" and it's easy to understand the widespread enthusiasm. The events in this story, which takes place in a small town, encapsulate all of Jackson's preoccupations and themes in one fantastical package. The story enfolds as incredulous small-mindedness, entrenched, malevolent tradition, and community solidarity no matter how evil or irrational. It stands as a prime example of the modern-Gothic sensibility, a style in which Jackson excelled.

Over her lifetime, Jackson published in many magazines. While her stories did appear in the "New Yorker," and scholarly, university publications, (both she and her husband had strong academic affiliations), she was also a regular contributor to the popular "women's" magazines of the day such as "Ladies' Home Journal," "Charm," and the "Woman's Home Companion." Written as manageable vignettes easily read, they had mass appeal for women sitting under the hair dryer at the beauty shop, or housewives taking a break from folding the laundry.

Her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman in a memorial essay written after his wife's death prophesized that ..."Shirley Jackson's work is among that small body of literature produced in our time that seems apt to survive." The Library of America has fulfilled this prophecy in producing this collected volume.

Great writing it's not. Her technique is prosaic narrative; a kind of writing proficiency once taught generations ago in schools as "accomplished creative writing."

I was originally drawn to this book as I'd seen the filmed version of her story "The Haunting of Hill House," and was curious to read this source material. In my estimation, the 1963 movie, re-titled for the screen as "The Haunting," was an improvement on Jackson's work. Jackson's story lacks a sustained tension and the supernatural elements presented are rather naïve and limp on the terror meter. The filmmakers, while retaining the general plot line were able to infuse some needed irony and insert some character dimensions and plot enhancements that gave the movie some entertainment value.

As a Time Capsule of the way it was...well "Shirley Jackson's Novels and Stories," is entertaining bedtime reading before going nighty-night

5-0 out of 5 stars Now You're IT!
Lovers of Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Alfred Hitchcock will find much to admire in Shirley Jackson's deft portrait of psychopathology in //We Have Always Lived in the Castle//. Two sisters, suspected by villagers of murdering their entire family, live in isolation in a splendid manor. Their lives take a further turn for the macabre when a long-lost cousin disrupts their idyll. In the second of the two complete novels collected here, ghosts in //The Haunting of Hill House//, lead a young woman researching psychic phenomena at Hill House to a curious, abrupt fate.

These novels keep company in this compact Library of America edition with dozens of short stories written in clear, hypnotic prose. Whether it's villagers gathering on the town green for a lottery, a New York street corner where a housewife's nerves snap, a cocktail party with an ominously prescient teenager in the kitchen, or a char woman's simple wheedling, the settings are ordinary, but nothing else is quite what it seems: Middle-class American games at mid-century veer unexpectedly into cruelty, insanity and murder, just when it's your turn to be "it."

Reviewed by Zara Raab

5-0 out of 5 stars A Master Storyteller gets her Due
A few years ago I read a review of an anthology of short stories in which a story by Joyce Carol Oates was praised as "a study of loneliness worthy of Shirley Jackson." For that and many other reasons how apropos that it's Oates herself who has compiled the contents of this very welcome volume, which features Jackson's three best books in their entirety: her 1949 collection The Lottery and Other Stories, and her classic novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Not only that, but a bumper crop of 22 of her other short stories are included as well, some of which are among her very best: "One Ordinary day, With Peanuts," "A Visit, or The Lovely House," "The Summer People," "I Know Who I Love," and "The Bus." Jackson's been my favorite author since I was a teen, and I've been really happy to see her literary rep growing again in recent years; I'm hoping this volume might do well enough that The Library of America might release a companion volume collecting her four other novels: The Road Through the Wall, The Bird's Nest, The Sundial, and my favorite of the bunch, the underrated bildungsroman, Hangsaman (I'd also throw in her book of very funny family stories, Life Among the Savages, as well as the novel she was working on at the time of her death, Come Along with Me).

At any rate what we have here is a feast of Jackson's particular brand of mystery, fear, humor, tragedy, and misanthropy, as always communicated in her clear, unmistakably Jacksonian prose, and starring such unforgettable characters as the mysterious, tragic Eleanor Vance, who goes to Hill House for a summer stay and never leaves; Mary Catherine Blackwood and her sister Constance, who together find their very peculiar happy ending in their "castle;" not to mention the nameless protagonist of "The Daemon Lover," likely whom the reviewer above was referring to with his reference to human loneliness (I would add Catherine Vincent from "I Know Who I Love" in that delineation as well); and of course the terrified Mrs. Hutchinson from Jackson's main claim to immortality, "The Lottery." There is also a veritable constellation of dreadful old bats populating these tales as antagonists, tormenting our heroines with their prudish propriety, and worse (Mrs. Montague in The Haunting of Hill House is a good example); and many, many perfectly horrible small town denizens, who play out smaller-scaled but similar versions of Jackson's famous lottery in many stories, practicing or promulgating ostracism, narrow-mindedness, racism, and just plain petty, spiteful, mean-spiritedness in general. Jackson regularly narrated the meme that human beings carry evil within them, and some of the most fearful, anxiety-provoking stories in her oeuvre disturb so because their descriptions of the sheer banality of this herd-pack mentality still ring true ("The Renegade" may yet be the cruelest of all the contes cruels I've encountered). Jackson had her lighter side as well, and in stories such as "The Night We All Had the Grippe," "Charles," and "My Life with RH Macy" her wry humor shines, though still with an almost indefinable air of something off-kilter; through light and dark, the author peered at life with a detached, slightly warped lens.

As this book clearly proves, Shirley Jackson's entire body of work exists today as an integrated whole, with a distinct vision and overall worldview that remains universal yet curiously her own; something I suppose every artist would strive for. Love this book: 5 out of 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jackson's two great shorter novels, with a wide-ranging selection of stories
Here are the contents of The Library of America's first Shirley Jackson volume:



The Intoxicated
The Daemon Lover
Like Mother Used to Make
Trial by Combat
The Villager
My Life with R. H. Macy
The Witch
The Renegade
After You, My Dear Alphonse
Afternoon in Linen
Flower Garden
Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors
A Fine Old Firm
The Dummy
Seven Types of Ambiguity
Come Dance with Me in Ireland
Of Course
Pillar of Salt
Men with Their Big Shoes
The Tooth
Got a Letter from Jimmy
The Lottery

A Cauliflower in Her Hair
Behold the Child Among His Newborn Blisses
It Isn't the Money I Mind
The Third Baby's the Easiest
The Summer People
The Night We All Had Grippe
A Visit; or, The Lovely House
This Is the Life; or, Journey with a Lady
One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts
Louisa, Please Come Home
The Little House
The Bus
The Possibility of Evil

The Mouse
I Know Who I Love
The Beautiful Stranger
The Rock
The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith

Appendix: Biography of a Story
... Read more

2. The Lottery and Other Stories
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-03-16)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.41
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374529531
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Lottery, one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker. "Power and haunting," and "nights of unrest" were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson's lifetime, unites "The Lottery:" with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demonstrate Jack son's remarkable range--from the hilarious to the truly horrible--and power as a storyteller.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (87)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Crusader Against Racism
None of my students had ever read, or even heard of, Shirley Jackson nor her famous story "The Lottery" when I taught a fiction workshop in a prestigious MFA writing program eighteen months ago, so I have to believe that, with the proliferation of newer models, Shirley Jackson doesn't have the cachet she once had.Maybe Shelley Jackson has taken her place in the minds and hearts of young writers today.(Both writers grew up in the Bay Area and we are proud of them both!)Anyhow "The Lottery" was a big hit and many said that it reminded them of a film project that would be a good fit for disgraced movie director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village)."Professor Killian, are there other Shirley Jackson stories as chilling as The Lottery?"My brow furrowed."Not exactly," I admitted."She wrote some scary novels, but I can tell you're not interested in those."

Finally one student slapped down a wellworn paperback copy of "The Lottery and Other Stories" onto the seminar table."Talk about a one hit wonder!" he snorted.It was up to me to stand up for the other stories in the volume which, though none of them are exactly as perfect as the title piece, still carry a certain amount of resonance even sixty years later.We noticed that much of the work was written during World War II, with the consequence that men play small parts in general in these stories.It's mostly a women's world, and the women are really messed up.In "The Tooth," a housewife from upstatetakes the bus down to Manhattan to get a tooth seen to, and somewhere along the way she loses her mind and thinks that she has a demon lover.By the end of the tale a sordid amnesia has set in.In "Pillar of Salt," another married woman goes to Manhattan and has a breakdown just from the noise and bustle of city life.You'd think an editor would have spoken to Miss Jackson pointing out the similarity between the two stories.But maybe it's a systemic failure she's pointing to--the way in which society has both denigrated women and put them up on a pedestal.And in many of the stories, it's another woman who's the enemy.Jackson attacks the casual racism and anti-Semitism of the period in that forthright 1947 fashion that we loved so much in Gentleman's Agreement and Intruder in the Dust, but on other issues, like that of identity, she seems curiously muted, perhaps convinced that human beings are constitutionally drawn towards evil and malice.So, it's not a cheerful book by any means.

Neither is it a particularly compelling one.For some reason The New Yorker was encouraging vague markers of identification, for everyone in the book seems to have the same name and the same futile tags.This one wears a housedress, that one carries a pug dog, and that's about it, they're all pretty shadowy and prejudiced.And lost!Lost in the broken dreams of post-Fordist America.

1-0 out of 5 stars Nothing Interesting.
No short story I have ever read has left me hanging or wanting as much as Shirley Jackson's. This happened with more than just one story in the book. As brief as most of the stories are in this collection, I can understand there is not much room for character development. But that is why I don't care what happens to the characters. I don't get time to know them. If I don't know them, then I don't care and that is what makes Ms. Jackson's stories, in this collection anyway, difficult to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Suitable for middle school child
Ordered by error.I was surprised to find it was a classroom short story and not meant for adults.It is an old plot but with proper teaching, would help a child understand how different cultural customscould be viewed by outsiders.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good transaction!
The book arrived promptly in good condition. Sadly, it didn't have the one short story I really wanted to read (The Summer People), but none-the-less very enjoyable reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Dark and Magnificent Brilliance
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) was a professional short story writer in an era when the term meant an author who was able to subordinate their own inclinations to the demands of the magazines in which they were published.As such, she well-paid to write stories tailored to such magazines as VOGUE, MADEMOISELLE, WOMAN'S DAY, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, and THE SATURDAY EVENING POST.Although much admired at the time, these stories are considered trivial today--largely because, whenever the opportunity arose for her to work without restriction, Jackson produced material that was infinitely more powerful, material that shocked, disquieted, upset, disturbed, and horrified readers who came to it in an unsuspecting frame of mind.

Inasmuch as most of the reading public presently knows her from the short story "The Lottery" and the novel THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Jackson is frequently thought of as horror writer.There is truth to this, but this is not the literally monstrous horror of such writers as Stephen King or Dean Koontz; it is instead the horror of the ordinary and the everyday.It is a nice old gentleman on a train chatting with a small child; it is the dog that chases the neighbor's chickens; it is a woman on vacation in the city.It is nothing more nor less than the horror of strangulation by the absolutely ordinary.

Much of Jackson's fiction rests on the social boundaries that constricted women of the 1940s and 1950s, when a woman's preferred career was thought to be marriage and motherhood--a notion that Jackson undercuts time after time in truly poisonous portraits of jilted lovers, exhausted housewives, and duped mothers whose situations are made unexpectedly and terrifyingly clear to them in a sudden flash of self-realization.Even the luxury of a housekeeper to a pregnant wife is frought with danger, as the young Mrs. Hart so painfully discovers when confronted with the invisible hooks of cleaning woman Mrs. Anderson in "Men With Their Big Shoes."But if women's issues are the vehicle by which Jackson most often delivers her message, the message itself is one of hell on earth.

Jackson's tales are often ironic, often satirical, and frequently funny, but even so there is no escaping the silenced scream that issues from those who unexpectedly find themselves among the damned--a situation all the more unexpected because most of the time they have done everything they were supposed to do and done it well according to the standards of the world around them.In "The Lottery" Tess was late to the drawing because she didn't want to leave her dishes in the sink.The kindly mother in "Charles" takes pride in the fact that her son is so well-behaved in comparison with the kindergarten class troublemaker.Mrs. Wilson wants to show that she is not racist when her son brings home a black playmate in "After You, My Dear Alphonse;" in the process she unwittingly displays exactly how racist she really is.

The occasional men to whom Jackson turns her attention fare no better: a slightly drunken party-goer finds himself vulnerable to the apocalyptic imagination of a teenage girl doing her homework in the kitchen in "The Intoxicated," and David Turner, who prepares a good meal for next-door-neighbor Marcia in "Like Mother Used To Make," finds himself thoroughly emasculated for his pains.But more often as not, men--sometimes with considerable deliberation--are the slippery slope from which wives, lovers, daughters, and mothers slide into personal chaos and disaster, with the mysterious Jamie Harris of "The Daemon Lover" a case in point.

Jackson's world seethes with violence and the threat of violence, often arising from seemingly innocent circumstances, frequently involving a sense of territorialism and personal possession, and often with children at the center."The Witch" finds a child much more prepared to perceive, define, and defend himself against psychological danger than his mother; "The Renegade" finds children thoroughly prepared to take bad-taste jokes and sarcasm to a logical and violent conclusion that will anger and horrify anyone who has ever loved an animal.But Jackson's violence is not always literal; it is often emotional, covert, and symbolic, examining the way in which we ceaselessly poison each other, sometimes accidentally, sometimes deliberately--and Jackson is not afraid to imply racism, sexism, homophobia, social class, and the closed doors of the status quo as underlying cause.

Critics are fond of saying that Jackson couldn't have written a bad sentence if she had tried, and it is true that she has a unique, often lyrical, tone of voice.It plays beautifully against the shock of her stories and the questions they leave, often unanswered, to resonate in your mind when the story is done.Although her output was somewhat uneven, she is Truly one of the great masters of the short-story form and truly one of the great American authors of the 20th Century.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer ... Read more

3. Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories Of Shirley Jackson
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 448 Pages (1997-12-01)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$14.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553378333
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The stories in this edition represent the great diversity of her work, from humor to her shocking explorations of the human psyche. The tales range, chronologically, from the writings of her college days and residence in Greenwich Village in the early 1940s, to the unforgettably chilling stories from the period just before her death. They provide an exciting overview of the evolution of her craft through a progression of forms and styles, and add significantly to the body of her published work.

Just an Ordinary Day is a testament to how large a talent Shirley Jackson had and to the depth, breadth, and complexity of her writing. Though this remarkable literary life was cut short, Jackson clearly established a unique voice that has won a permanent place in the canon of outstanding American literature, and remains a powerful influence on generations of readers and writers.Amazon.com Review
The late Shirley Jackson (1919-65) is the author of theclassic short story, "TheLottery," a dark, unforgettable tale of the unthinking and murderouscustoms of a small New England town.She is also the author ofseveral American Gothic novels, such as We Have Always Lived in theCastle and The Hauntingof Hill House.Her atmospheric stories explore themes ofpsychological turmoil, isolation, and the inequity of fate.Justan Ordinary Day is a posthumous collection of 54 short stories(many of which have never been published), edited and introduced by twoof Jackson's children.Jackson penned many of the stories in thisvolume for the popular press, for titles ranging from Fantasy andScience Fiction and The New Yorker to women's magazinessuch as Charm and Good Housekeeping.The disparity ofthe intended audience and the divergent styles result in an unevencollection of short stories, some that are outstanding and will bemuch appreciated by the reading public, others that hold interest onlyto the die-hard fan or chronicler of Jackson's work. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not an ordinary book...
I found this collection of short stories by Shirley Jackson to be interesting and odd.Ms. Jackson was a prolific short story writer and many of these stories were published in magazines in the forties, fifties, and sixties.I think that I enjoyed the stories because they were written in an era when I was young.Ms. Jackson writes about people - nice people and not-so-nice people.One of her not-so-nice people stories is called "The Possibility of Evil" which was published in The Saturday Evening Post. It was chilling and I just loved it.But Shirley Jackson was funny too. The story "Alone in a Den of Cubs" made me laugh out loud.She had a dry sense of humor.I'm not sure if she was a genius, but she was certainly on her game.I think that she was very witty and clever. Her most famous short story was "The Lottery" and it caused quite an uproar when it was first published and really put her on the map.I enjoyed that story, but it is not in this book.My son thinks that the story is awful, but he doesn't understand the era when that story was written and how disturbing it was to people.I do want to say that I did not like all of the stories in this book, but I loved most of them.I guess I am a Shirley Jackson groupie.

4-0 out of 5 stars Buy it for one story, enjoy the rest
"One Ordinary Day With Peanuts" Buy this book to read that story. Before this book was released that story, more ambiguous and both funnier and more chilling than the famous "The Lottery" was only available in an old issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and a decades out of print Best Of paperback collection by Judith Merril. Don't let Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction put you off; the magazine had deeply catholic tastes, particularly then, as did Judith.

The rest of the stories range from very, very good to "yeah, I see why that wasn't published or completed". There's arguments whether the latter should've been published. Reading Judy Oppenheimer's biography Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson puts things in context though doesn't settle the issue. One of her daughters, who completed one of Jackson's novels after her death, used "Ordinary" to test prospective boyfriends and she oversaw the publication of this collection.

Jackson is today only remembered for "The Lottery" and maybe the not-bad Haunting of Hill House. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a subtle, sneaky novel. Not without flaws but long overdue for rediscovery as is the author herself, both her fiction and non-fiction (Life Among the Savages is Erma Bombeck + Stephen King + Mark Twain).

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Beautiful collection of precise, perfectly edited stories.A delight from the first page to the last.Shirley Jackson's writing is clear, effortless, and completely free from self-indulgence.A master craftsman of the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jackson remains one of the finest American writers to have lived
This is a wonderful collection of Shirley Jackson's short stories in a new easy to read book. Jackson's "The Lottery" continues to shock and mesmerize readers sixty years after it's publication in "The New Yorker". To this day, this story holds the record for generating the most mail and telegrams in "the New Yorker's" history and Jackson, until her death, contended that this was "just a story." Her writing is a wonderful guide for all people who wish to write. It's a satisfying smörgåsbord of a wide variety of work, all of it centered on character and the inner workings of the human mind. As a fan of writers such a Richard Russo, Charles Dickens, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, Alice Walker and John Irving, Shirley Jackson belongs at the top of this list. You must read everything she wrote, but this book is a wonderful way to get your feet wet. Used or new, it's a book that you will return to many times and you may even want more than one copy so that you can lend it but still have it while your reading buddy takes his or her time savoring each story. This is an example of the power of the written word and an example of why William Shakespeare and Aristophanes are still remembered and read today.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Nice Discovery
Shirley Jackson was a gem. She was a suburban mom and wife who managed to find the time to crank out loads of short fiction as well as authoring The Haunting of Hill House, easily the greatest haunted house novel yet done. Jackson's uncollected, often unpublished stories are here in this volume that arrives in the world like a late Christmas present. Some of these tales are hilarious, a few are disturbing, many are weird, and a handful are touchingly personal and concern Jackson's life raising her kids in post-War America. (Those last types were the ones I enjoyed most of all.) Shirley Jackson left the world far too soon and her like won't be seen again, but this volume, compiled by her son, is a nice keepsake for her fans, who never knew most of this existed. ... Read more

4. The Lottery and Other Stories, the Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
 Paperback: Pages (1991)
-- used & new: US$34.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000GDOXLS
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5. We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 160 Pages (2006-10-31)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039970
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.Amazon.com Review
Visitors call seldom at Blackwood House. Taking tea at thescene of a multiple poisoning, with a suspected murderess as one'shost, is a perilous business. For a start, the talk tends to turn toarsenic. "It happened in this very room, and we still have our dinnerin here every night," explains Uncle Julian, continually rehearsingthe details of the fatal family meal. "My sister made these thismorning," says Merricat, politely proffering a plate of rum cakes,fresh from the poisoner's kitchen. We Have Always Lived in theCastle, Shirley Jackson's 1962 novel, is full of a macabre andsinister humor, and Merricat herself, its amiable narrator, is one ofthe great unhinged heroines of literature. "What place would be betterfor us than this?" she asks, of the neat, secluded realm she shareswith her uncle and with her beloved older sister, Constance. "Whowants us, outside? The world is full of terrible people." Merricat hasdeveloped an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic,burying talismanic objects beneath the family estate, nailing them totrees, ritually revisiting them. She has made "a powerful taut webwhich never loosened, but held fast to guard us" against the distrustand hostility of neighboring villagers.

Or so she believes. But at last the magic fails. A strangerarrives--cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune. Hedisturbs the sisters' careful habits, installing himself at the headof the family table, unearthing Merricat's treasures, talkingprivately to Constance about "normal lives" and "boy friends." Unableto drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adoptsmore desperate methods. The result is crisis and tragedy, therevelation of a terrible secret, the convergence of the villagers uponthe house, and a spectacular unleashing of collective spite.

The sisters are propelled further into seclusion and solipsism,abandoning "time and the orderly pattern of our old days" in favor ofan ever-narrowing circuit of ritual and shadow. They have themselvesbecome talismans, to be alternately demonized and propitiated, darkly,with gifts. Jackson's novel emerges less as a study in eccentricityand more--like some of her other fictions--as a powerful critique ofthe anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance ofnormality itself. "Poor strangers," says Merricat contentedly at last,studying trespassers from the darkness behind the barricaded Blackwoodwindows. "They have so much to be afraid of." --Sarah Waters ... Read more

Customer Reviews (103)

3-0 out of 5 stars I read it until the bitter end!
I purchased a collection of Shirey Jackson's short stories a few years ago because it contained my favorite "The Lottery"."We Have Always Live in the Castle" was one of the stories included.I had not read it before, but it is now being done as a play and after reading a review of the play thought I should read the story.

It took several attempts and I still couldn't get that interested in the characters or story.However, I decided I had to finish it.I did on a damp and dreary Sunday afternoon which was the wrong time because I had trouble getting asleep last night!

I like most everything else this author has written, but not this story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
I think I am just about the only person out there who had not read Shirley Jackson's, We Have Always Lived in a Castle. Well, now I have, and this 146 page book left me feeling a bit unsettled.Creepy, atmospheric and beyond clever, this is one book that will leave some of you scratching your head when you get to the end.
In brief, Merrikat, as she prefers to be called, begins narrating this story in this way:

"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, and I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phallaides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead."

From the opening paragraph, I thought something is very strange about Merricat. She is eighteen and acts like a child. She is extremely superstitious, believing in signs and burying items in the ground to secure the property. She is also very protective of her sister.She lives with her sister and Uncle Julius, who on the surface appears to have some sort of dementia. The three of them live in a secluded mansion, and never leave the house, except for Merricat who ventures into town for necessities about twice a week. It is clear that the townspeople fear and dislike the remaining family members. The Blackwoods avoid the neighbors, preferring the security of seclusion. They even avoid the few who are friendly.

Cousin Charles arrives onthe scene, interested in money that may have been left behind, and although he is an unlikable character, he is the only one who seems to be somewhat normal. How the other family members died is revealed as you read on.

So where is this story going? Well, before long it is very clear that Merricat is emotionally disturbed and not a reliable narrator, and that everything is not as it may have appeared early on. For a 142 page book, this one took me several days to complete as it was creepy, really kept my brain engaged searching for clues, and in the end left me wondering about Shirley Jackson, and what her life was like. I know that I will be interested in reading more by this fascinating author. Don't Miss This One!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Sweet Treat
What made me want to read this book initially was the title. This was my first time reading or hearing of the author Shirley Jackson. I really enjoyed this "quirky" book.

The story is about the two sisters, Constance and Mary Katherine Blackwood, who live together with there somewhat senile uncle, Julian Blackwood. You learn early on that the rest of the family died due to arsenic poisoning. The arsenic was in the sugar that was sprinkled over the blackberries that was for desert. Uncle Julian survived the poisoning, Constance did not eat blackberries, and Mary Katherine was sent to bed without desert that night. Constance was accused of the murder but was later freed. We get the details of that night in bits and pieces from Uncle Julian because he is writing a book about the subject. The books has never been produced because he is always reviewing his "papers."

The story's narrator is Mary Katherine known throughout the story as, Merricat. The sisters along with their uncle live a very reclusive life. Merricat hates the very idea of having to interact with the townspeople. The townspeople are not very fond of the Blackwood family either because of their wealth. I really feel in love with Merricat's character. She suffered from anxiety and a mild form of OCD but she had a "snob" side that I loved. Constance was so motherly and protective of Merricat. Uncle Julian was hilarious.

Towards the end we meet their estranged cousin Charles Blackwood who Merricat immediately deems a ghost and a demon. Charles's greed disrupted the family and his presence brought on an awful tragedy. My favorite part of the novel was how when Charles said something to Merricat she would respond with the latin name of a poisonous mushroom! Every great novel has a cat and this one was no exception he was Merricat's constant companion, Jonas. (less)

3-0 out of 5 stars Audio Book Review - Interesting...but not creepy.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle / 978-1-4417-3428-0

My husband and I purchased this audio book to listen to during a long car drive. The audio book quality is good - the solo narrator has a solid voice and decent changes and inflections when she voices the multiple characters. For some reason, her voice reminds me a little of Maria Bamberg, whose voice talents I deeply enjoy. For the overall story, however, we were nonplussed - this isn't really a creepy story, or a character-propelled story, or indeed a story where much of anything happens at all.

For one thing, despite the tease on the box that there will be a "revelation of a terrible secret", this is not a suspense story. The "terrible secret" of the murderer's identity is completely obvious from the first few chapters - both my husband and I came to the same correct conclusion about 45 minutes into the reading. So if you're coming to this for any sense of suspense, you'll leave disappointed, because there is never any suspenseful buildup and never any kind of meaningful resolution of the events behind the murder. Annoyingly, the identity of the murderer is pretty much the ONLY thing the reader will learn about the murder mentioned on the blurb - outside of the initial who/what/where/when exposition dump in the early chapters, the backstory is never fully developed or explored. A few tantalizing hints are dropped of potentially interesting side elements - the family feuds, the suspicious age differences, and the abusive politics at play that have left all the surviving members of the family so broken and shattered - but none of these elements are developed and they all feel tragically wasted. Despite several situations seeming ripe for one, there's no real "twist" here to reward the reader - with the murderer known to everyone (including the reader) from the get-go, and with no ghosts (real or metaphorical) to appear and/or vanquish, all the reader is left with is the slow slog to the finish line. The only real character "development" to be had here is limited to an extremely tame and vanilla spiral into further agoraphobia - and it's just not enough to carry the reader to the finish line.

Listening to this novel, I realized that this is one of those stories that English majors often encounter - a story where the critical commentary (particularly the ones with Epileptic Tree theories) is far more interesting than the actual story itself, because the critical commentary can delve into those tantalizing potentialities that the actual story refused to develop. I can see how, if I'd been assigned this in my English major days, I'd appreciate this book more - it's short, sweet, and to the point - but as a read-for-pleasure novel, I feel that it failed us. I understand that a lot of people truly love this novel, and to each their own, so take this dissenting viewpoint with however many grains of salt.

~ Ana Mardoll

5-0 out of 5 stars For eerie, small-town Gothic tales, Shirley Jackson is the win
The more I read of Shirley Jackson, the more she has proven herself again and again to be a master of creepy, emotionally unsettling situations. With that said, do not read this book if you don't want to be unsettled.

The novel follows two sisters, 18-year-old Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood, and her agoraphobic older sister, Constance. Though the story centers around the poisoning of Merricat and Constance's family, the true horror is psychological, as we spend more time in Merricat's head and little bits of information about her world are revealed to us in small fragments. Though Merricat is 18, her voice reads like a young child, swinging back and forth from dreamy fantasies about living on the moon to dark, murderous thoughts toward the people of her village. Constance's portrayal is equally terrifying, a woman indulgent to Merricat's destructive behavior and freakishly obsessed with domestic duties. What is horrifying, to me, is the way these characters are depicted as being so resistant to change and self-reflection that they inevitably seal themselves up in their house like a tomb, sitting at the heart of a village that hates them. And yet still, somehow, you feel emotionally attached to the sisters and are totally caught up in the way the manipulative Merricat tells her story.

The Jonathan Lethem introduction is insightful in this edition, but I would suggest reading it after you read the novel so that you can garner your own interpretation, and then read Lethem's take on the two sisters afterward. "Castle" is a quick read (I wolfed it down in a day or so), but it is not a novel soon forgotten. Prepare yourself to let these characters stick in your mind. ... Read more

6. The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 208 Pages (2006-11-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039989
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But HillHouse is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.Amazon.com Review
Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House hasunnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale ofsubtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of thesignificant haunted house stories of the ages.

Eleanor Vance hasalways been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so longalone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk,even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and anawkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that oneday something big would happen, and one day it does. Shereceives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a manfascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghostwatch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. Aparanormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be apart of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, hisassistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at HillHouse--a notorious estate in New England.

Hill House is aforeboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires,gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "withoutkindness, never meant to be lived in...."

Although Eleanor'sinitial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizingeffect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that enticesher to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hearsdeathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostlyapparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo norLuke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of HillHouse is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional tormentEleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Hauntingof Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James'sclassic ghost story, The Turn of theScrew. --Naomi Gesinger ... Read more

Customer Reviews (349)

1-0 out of 5 stars Not impressed
I was so excited to read this book as I have read many reviews on the psychological thrilling pull it has on the reader, something I love.But I was not convinced.

The dialogue was odd and obviously dated that it was hard to empathize with the characters and most of them didn't seem to actually be...humanistic.It was like watching a musical play on stage, nobody acts that way in those situations in reality.The main character, Eleanor, was so odd and strange and just hard to follow her train of thoughts and why she was feeling what she was feeling, it was over my head.There didn't seem to be any thrilling parts of this story, just when it builds (and I will admit, it does) it just falls into the abyss, never to be seen again.

I read this book in two days because I kept thinking 'it will get good in THIS chapter' after every chapter and I was left slamming the book down disappointed. I'm glad I chose to borrow it from the library and not buy it as I would have regretted spending my hard-earned money on this under-delivered book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Come Home Eleanor
This is an excellent book. Whether you judge it as a ghost story or just a novel that deals with real human psychology, it's very very good. I think this is even better than the best (and admittedly very good!) Victorian ghost stories from Le Fanu, M.R. James, etc. (And it's on entirely different level from cheesy pop horror novels). Haunting of Hill house has a truly distinctive dream-like quality and an almost classical tragic element to it. Really worth your while, whether as a ghost story or novel dealing with real human frailty--or both!

3-0 out of 5 stars A Ghastly Vintage
First let me begin by saying that I love the imagination behind Jackson's tales...and that I revere The Lottery in particular. I'm also a great fan of 'classic' horror/suspense/ghost tales of the LeFanu, Bierce, James and Hawthorne variety...so I think I bring a fair turn of mind to this book. She was a trailblazer, writing and publishing fantasy--as mainstream fiction--long before most readers even knew it as a genre.

And for fun, I read The Haunting of Hill House in one sitting, after midnight.

It's a classic, but this tale, unfortunately, shows its age. The writing itself, and in particular the characters' speech, seems stilted and filled with peculiar social conventions that at best sound dated to the modern ear. The characters themselves seem barely developed or not fully fleshed out, considering the "psychological" nature of the erstwhile horror.

To 21st Century sensibilities, there's nothing frightening, or even the least bit horrific, in Hill House's antics. We are, after all, used to watching "Ghost Hunters" every Wednesday on TV and accept vampires as block-buster movies without a qualm. Even reading it alone, in a dark room, didn't cause me so much as a palpitation.

Read it anyway, just because it is a classic, and without tales like The Haunting of Hill House, we'd never have got The Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby off the ground.

5-0 out of 5 stars Those Who Walk at Hill House
With so many books that embrace vampires and werewolves as love interests, it is harder and harder to find genuine scary material to read. As I write this review, "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson is 51 years old. It's a hot July and I needed some fiction with the chill factor. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places but the scarcity of chill-manufacturing literature is the reason I resorted to reading a book I haven't read since I was a teen.

I will be candid and say I'm far better acquainted with the classic 1963 film than I am with this book. Yet I love this book. I love it because it doesn't have bloodsuckers or furry creatures that want to cuddle. I love it because the haunting of the house is not rational and never explained. Hill House doesn't want to cuddle. It doesn't want "perfect love and perfect understanding" as Mrs. Montague keeps chanting in the book when she finally turns up at Hill House.

The word character-driven is bandied around quite a bit these days. This book is a great example of a character-driven story, and yet it has a plot.

There are five major characters. Dr. John Montague is the anthropology professor that sets things in motion. He wants to see if Hill House will live up to its haunted reputation. Luke Sanderson is the young hipster and heir apparent to Hill House. Theodora, simply Theodora, is an artistic, chic shop owner and clairvoyant. Eleanor Vance is the "spinster" who took care of her mother for 11 years until the mother's death. She had a paranormal experience as a child. Eleanor is probably not the most neurotic of the bunch, but she is the most vulnerable to Hill House. And then there is Hill House.

Hill House is certainly a character. It is also the antagonist.

For me, the most surprising thing about the book when I read it was the many female relationships woven into the fabric of the story. Theodora has a "friend" that lives with her; before she goes to Hill House, they quarrel. That relationship is mirrored in Theo's relationship with Nell.

Dr. Montague tells the history of Hill House. Hugh Crain had three wives; two die at Hill House. Two daughters survive Crain. They have a cantankerous relationship, which is initiated by Hill House and its possessions. The elder daughter lives at Hill House with a companion. The local gossips believe the companion had a hand in the elder Miss Crain's death. The younger Miss Crain harassed the companion. This love-hate relationship between women continues with Theo and Nell in the present story.

But what is the haunting and who causes it? Was the house "born bad," as Dr. Montague states? Was it Hugh Crain who caused it? Was it the way the house was built? There are no answers. That's the enchantment of Hill House.

5-0 out of 5 stars Elegant, creepy story
This novel (and most of Jackson's stuff,for that matter) is the perfect blend of literary, character-driven fiction and genre fiction.Jackson writes some beautifully realistic and developed characters that they could be real people, and she puts that together with creepy, slowly-building horror.This isn't the overt stuff of modern fiction, but elegant literature about what happens when human minds are forced to consider the hostility of the supernatural or the evil we're all capable of.Jackson isn't shy about making a reader meet her halfway, and she doesn't shy away from asking readers to think about difficult subjects.A very satisfying read. ... Read more

7. Life Among the Savages
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 256 Pages (1997-10-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140267670
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
One of America's most celebrated writers takes you home to a family and a small town so funny and unpredictable, you'd wish it were your own. "As warm as it is hilarious and believable . . . Never has the state of domestic chaos been so perfectly illuminated."--The New York Times Book Review.Amazon.com Review
Can this be the author of such chilling tales as The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House? An ordinary housewife stuck in a big, shabby house with three marvelous, demanding children and a charming husband who takes detached interest in the chaos they generate? Yes, it's Shirley Jackson all right: the precision of her observations and prose is familiar, even if her humor is something of a surprise. Not until Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions in 1993 would another woman write with such honesty about the maddening multitude of trivial, essential chores that constitute a mother's life. But Jackson nailed it first, 40 years earlier, in her hilarious chronicle of life in a small Vermont town, where getting the kids to school on time requires the combined gifts of a drill sergeant and a lady's maid. The saga of her son's bumpy adjustment to kindergarten, frequently anthologized as Charles, is justly famous, but Jackson's account of the Department Store Trip from Hell (two kids, two toy guns, one doll carriage and doll, mayhem in revolving doors and escalators) is even funnier. Although her memoirs are as merciless as her ghost stories, you may not notice because you're laughing so hard. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming classic
This account of Jackson's experience raising children in the 50's is both heart-warming and hilarious.It's the kind of book that you read and re-read when you need to be reminded that life is good and worth the trouble!If you like children at all, you don't want to miss this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Timeless
I got my mother this book for her birthday, but she was still lost in the story of a certain boy wizard long after I finished with him so I read this first instead.This book may have been written in the 1950's but the sentiments and trials of motherhood are timeless.

The only thing that really brought home to me that this book was written in a different era were the amounts of money. But even that only serves to reinforce for me just how pertinent this book is today, yesterday and for many tomorrows.

There is a scene where she ends up raiding her children's piggy bank that keeps me in stitches while reading it and makes me smile whenever I think about it. Whether it's 5 cents or $5, it doesn't matter why you raided your children's piggy bank , it only matters that bread and milk were on the table, the kids got to school (eventually) and that no matter what it takes, you got the job of mothering done.

Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Amsuing
As a stay at home, I enjoyed reading this book.It is very funny.It is also interesting to see the change in times.This book was written in the 1940s. Especially of interest is the author's description of her two week hospital stay for child birth.These days it is pracically a drive by procedure :)I felt the book dragged at times, but all in all this is an enjoyable read and certainly one I would recommend to other moms.

5-0 out of 5 stars Humor from the Horror Goddess???
Yes! This book was so funny, I actually laughed out loud at times! Her descriptions of family life really hit home with me, and I wish she had written more...

5-0 out of 5 stars one of my all-time favorites
I grew up reading and rereading this book, as did all the five children in my family. It's one of the very funniest books I know on the subject of families and their foibles. Shirley Jackson is so well known for her more macabre and adult writing that people are usually skeptical when I recommend this for its outstandingly intelligent humor. Once you read this you must also read Raising Demons, which is the sequel, and every bit as good, although much harder to find. ... Read more

8. Come Along with Me
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 256 Pages (1995-10-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140250379
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Review
If you were thrilled by Shirley Jackson's "TheLottery" but aren't familiar with her other stories, don't missthe chance to pick up this important collection edited by the author'shusband. In addition to "The Lottery," it includes classicslike "The Beautiful Stranger" (body snatcher theme with atwist), "The Summer People" (a tale of sinister villagers),"A Visit" (a lyrical ghost story), "The Rock"(where death is a short, shy gentleman), and "The Bus"(Jackson's most overtly ghoulish and frightening story of all). Theunfinished novel Come Along with Me is mesmerizing, andJackson's "Biography of a Story" is an utterly hilariousaccount of readers' reactions when "The Lottery" was firstpublished in the New Yorker in 1948. As the New YorkTimes said, "Everything this author ... has in it the dignityand plausibility of myth ... Shirley Jackson knew better than anywriter since Hawthorne the value of haunted things." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Little Heartbreaking
Shirley Jackson wrote this (her last book) as her psychologist was working intensely on her agoraphobia. It reads like a woman coming out of a funk and for Jackson, that really works! It's a really wonderful book of stories, including the one that first aroused her husband to stalk and date her. The entire book is excellent, but it always strikes me as incredibly unpleasant that her widowed husband put this collection together with his NEW wife and then dedicated it to HER! Shirley surely turned over in her grave on that one.

4-0 out of 5 stars 'I delight in what I fear'
Shirley Jackson was once told that even if she never wrote anything except "The Lottery" she would be remembered forever.Indeed, who can forget the first time they read this story and its shocking, sinister ending?"Come Along With Me" includes not only this classic story, but several of Jackson's other writings as well (short stories, essays, an unfinished novel), which prove Jackson's great talent and unique genius.

Yet, what is it that makes Jackson's work so effective and provocative?Few authors have her talent for tapping into our fears and fantasies quite as well as Shirley Jackson.After dangling the promise of joy and happiness in front of us, she cruelly snatches it away and show us a dark parody of our own dreams.We see this time and time again in Jackson's work, especially in several of the stories collected here.In "Summer People", a married couple's long-awaited extended holiday becomes a nightmare of isolation.In "Beautiful Stranger", a woman is miraculously freed from an abusive husband, but loses herself in the process.In "The Bus", an elderly woman finds pain in childhood memories just when it seems she needs them the most.And, In "I Know Who I Love" a woman finds that even after the deaths of her unloving, overprotective parents, she is still very much within their control.In short, there are few happy endings in Shirley Jackson's world.

This is a great collection for Jackson fans as well as those who might not be too familiar with her work.The only bad part, a few of her early stories are a little weak compared to the later ones.All in all, this book is still well worth checking out!

5-0 out of 5 stars Jackson's most revealing stories and thoughts on fiction
This book is a fitting testament to Shirley Jackson, as the selections span her entire literary career.It is tragic that a writer of Jackson's caliber should be called away during her productive years, but we are quite fortunate to be allowed a taste of the novel Jackson was working on when she died.That taste is a short one, consisting of six chapters (roughly 27 pages), the final three of which are the first draft.The protagonist is a thoroughly Jacksonian character, sometimes spontaneous and sometimes nostalgic, making a new life for herself in her own peculiar way.Her attempts at shoplifting are particularly telling of her character, but unfortunately her story ends at just about that point.The other stories included here are a special treat.While "The Lottery" is included (just in case someone may not be familiar with it, as Jackson's husband tells us in his preface), the other stories are poignant looks into the lives of rather ordinary people.Jackson had an amazing talent for characterization; the smallest actions can tell us more about a person than his/her overt actions and words, and such little things make Jackson's stories incredibly vivid, illuminating, and personal.Shirley Jackson was a wife and mother whose writing always took second place behind her family.Many of these stories center on family life in all its aspects."The Beautiful Stranger" and "A Day in the Jungle" deals with the sense of unfulfillment and unhappiness that one partner may come to feel in his/her marriage, "The Rock" speaks to the strength of a brother-sister relationship, "Island" is a somber story about one's end-of-life years."Pajama Party" is a simple tale of a young girl's birthday slumber party.The story sounds so much like real life that it could be a neighbor telling you about it firsthand; it is also the funniest story Jackson ever wroteThere are darker stories where characters become "lost," hopeless, and frightfully alone--"The Bus," "The Little House, "A Visitor" (which is a strange ghost story of sorts).The best stories here, in my mind, are "Louisa, Please Come Home," which has a uniquely Jacksonian twist of the prodigal son motif, and "I Know Who I Love," which illustrates the fact that parents can be much too overprotective of their children.

The true highlight of this book, though, are the three "lectures."One gives Jackson's response to the old "where do you get your ideas?" question.Another one addresses the techniques of writing effective fiction.My favorite, though, is an essay describing the reaction of readers to the publication of "The Lottery" in New Yorker Magazine.Jackson includes comments from all sorts of readers, almost all of it negative, which she breaks down into three different categories.While "The Lottery" is certainly an original, successful story, I cannot imagine that so many people would have been so affected that they felt compelled to put their shock and disapproval into words.The responses that Jackson describes to us offer a vivid look at American culture at mid-century.

If you are a Jackson fan, you (should) already own this book.If you want an introduction to Jackson, the stories included here will certainly delight you and win you over to Jackson's unique way of telling stories.These stories clearly reveal Jackson's humanity and family devotion, and the reader comes away with great respect for the author as both a writer and as a human being.

5-0 out of 5 stars An intimate tribute to a bright, literary star.
Shirely Jackson was a gifted writer who deserves to be regarded with the same prestige heaped upon Ray Bradbury and others.Come Along With Me, a posthumous collection gathering together early works with lectures and a novel fragment, not only allows readers to shiver and giggle as only Ms. Jackson could make us do, it also offers the reader an intimate glimpse into the creative process (compare the sharp focus in the revised segments of Come Along With Me with the somewhat blurred unrevised sections) and, by printing short stories in order of their publication, the growth of Ms. Jackson's considerable talent for the intelligently ghoulish can be seen and savored.As with her other, more famous stories (i.e The Haunting of Hill House), it is what is implied in the methodical unfolding of the tales that makes for the chills rather than in your face grue.This book, along with Jackson's others, is an essential in any literature loving bookworm's library.Highest recommendation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for Shirley Jackson Fans
This book is amazing!If you love short stories with a twist (or twisted short stories), you will be mezmerized by this book.The real gems in thiscollection are the short stories--you will find it difficult to put thisbook down.If you loved "The Lottery", get this book!Thecollection was assembled posthumously by Shirley Jackson's most trustedcritic--husband Stanley Hyman--and it is pure gold! ... Read more

9. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson
by Judy Oppenheimer
 Paperback: Pages (1989-05-27)
list price: US$10.95
Isbn: 0449904059
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars Private Life Unveiled
"Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson," by Judy Oppenheimer is the life story of the very private writer, Shirley Jackson. In this book we learn of Shirley's life which started in California where she was asharp-eyed, imaginative child. She could feel and see the caustic details in life surrounding her.

In Shirley's senior year, her father's employment took his family to New York where she felt more potently, the the alienation that was to haunt most of her life. After high school, we learn of her higher education and the details surrounding her early relationship with Stanley Hymen, her future husband.

Throughout all of her developing years, Shirley wrote. She was very faithful to this purpose. This biography tells the tales of the developing writer and her life. It looks as though Judy Oppenheimer had access to journals, diaries and letters, however most of the biographical journal thoughts are revealed toward the end of the book when Shirley wrote in a journal to relieve depression. The book tells a story of when Shirley was young, she found her grandmother snooping in her 'locked' desk and reading her writing. I wonder what these writings were and I wonder if a sense of the author's writing would have revealed a little more then the details derived mostly in the form of family member and friend interviews. Letters to her friends and family are scattered throughout but not much is mentioned of writes and rewrites/journals or diaries-not that I want to be particarly nosy, but isn't it the writing that makes us curious about Shirley?

In this book, you do learn a lot of Shirley's life. Her habits and many beliefs and thoughts, fears and relationships, but you don't get behind the writing much. She struggled to have time to write in adulthood when she had a huge house, four children, pets, and Stanley to care for, but more inside information as to the workings of the writings would have substantiated this biography a great deal.

Shirley was a larger than life character: she believed in witchcraft, she drank an awful lot, she could entertain and run a large house with unbelievable strength and she wrote some of the most interesting and haunting literature one can read.

One interesting note this reviewer observed was when reading, "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," toward the end, I felt depressed. It was a rather depressing ending if you've read the book, but even more so, when I read the biography in regards to this story in particular as being Shirley's downfall into depression and agoraphobia, I was surprised that this feeling was evoked in the story so well as to pass it on. Many books have sad endings and you may have empathy for the character, but to make one depressed to read on to the very end was an interesting correlation between the writing in the book, the reader, and real life.

There are no other biographies of Shirley's life out there right now. There are some critical reviews of her work and so forth, but no other book delves so deeply into her personal life, so if you are interested, this is a good book, but more importantly, if you want to know what her life was really like: Read her books.

1-0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
I am surprised by the praise this biography has received.Shirley Jackson has been my favorite American author since the 1960s.... having reread her books almost yearly.But this biography was more of a tell all- yet never informed me about THE WRITING.... I learned nothing about the behind the scenes of the novels themselves, the motivations... I found it to be more of an intrusion in a Private Life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Haunted Mind
Shirley Jackson is best known for her short story "The Lottery" and her novel "The Haunting of Hill House."While these are definitely two of her masterpieces, her other writings (six novels and numerous short stories) showcase a brilliant mind that saw the world in a very unique way.Shirley Jackson offered the world an opportunity to examine itself, whether it wanted to or not, to see the evil that existed beneath the staid common surface of life, spicing up her stories with a wry humor and ambiguity that was both frustrating and exhilirating.Judy Oppenheimer's biography "Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson" is a thorough, poignant, no-holds-barred look at this too often underappreciated author.

Shirley Jackson was born in 1916, to a young mother who hoped for more from her daughter, who was never to be beautiful or thin or proper like her mother wished her to be.Shirley's childhood was one of almost total isolation - she spent most of her time indoors reading and writing, having few friends that her mother would ever approve of.Her true freedom did not begin until she went to Syracuse University (her second attempt at a college education) where she met her future husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, later a famous critic and professor.Stanley recognized and affirmed the genius in Shirley, and throughout their nearly twenty-five year, often tumultuous relationship, he was her mentor and bedrock of normalcy.

Jackson's reputation as a writer may have suffered from the fact that she was never afraid to write stories for a profit.Her two collections of family chronicles, witty anecdotes about her children and their crazy ways which includes the famous story "Charles," were money makers but not exactly literature.With her novels "Road Through the Wall," "Hangsaman," and "The Bird's Nest" Shirley explored the unchartered territory of depression and schizophrenia.She was always ahead of her time, seeing what was not there, blurring the lines of reality and fantasy, shocking her readers to the core.Her writing is unforgettable and truly remarkable.

Judy Oppenheimer does an incredible job at painting a portrait of the enigmatic Jackson - a woman who lived through various personalities herself, who suffered from depression and anxiety, and in the end who perhaps was not meant for this world for too long.She had other more fantastical places to visit in her own mind.Oppenheimer draws on interviews with friends and family members, painting an equally sad and happy portrait of the writer and her family.Understanding more about what Jackson's life was like might make her stories a bit more understandable, but it will not take away any of the genius that was rightfully hers.

Most people remember Shirley Jackson as the talented author of THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, not to mention the deeply disturbing and still popular short story "The Lottery."Some of us also have lucked onto her two essay collections-slash-novels about family life and kids, LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES (1953)and RAISING DEMONS (1957), books with a surprisingly comedic view of life with four small children, in which Jackson portrays herself as a harried homemaker, not a nationwide celebrity with book contracts and a schedule of (not entirely welcome) speaking engagements.

Yet who was this Shirley Jackson?Talented, yes, and accomplished.But the cost of expressing those talents took an already unbalanced individual and set her on the path of multiple doom due to excessive and steady consumption of sweets, cigarettes, brandy and amphetamines.There were many sides to Shirley Jackson, says the author, and she justifies that by offering a warts-and-all bio that is conversant with feminist theory (the book dates from the 1980s) but not under its thumb; knowledgeable about psychobiography but not entirely a psycho-bio of a book, and understanding how Jackson's past influenced her adult life.

We return to Burlingame, California (suburban San Francisco) for Shirley's grammar-school years and to upstate New York for her teen and college years.With every intention otherwise, Shirley was a thorn in her mother's side, a striking but not particularly pretty face and a body that leant itself to obesity.Shirley was also a bright if not totally focused student and early on leant more toward poetry and short-story writing than the graceful suburban airs and superficial beauty that her mother would much rather have preferred.

There is a great deal of truth in the comedies-of-family life LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES and RAISING DEMONS and a great deal of omission, too.Through those books we gather a picture of her husband, scholar Stanley Hyman, as a reticent and somewhat reserved man; when in fact Stanley Hyman was a political firebrand who loved debating and plain old arguing.When Shirley narrates that she went to bed "with a mystery," there's no mystery now that a portable typewriter, pack of cigs and snifter of brandy probably climbed in too.

This woman of many contradictions fiercely loved her children and was fiercely protective of them, yet was at best a mediocre homemaker who occasionally enjoyed cooking but rarely got the chance or took the chance.What we don't hear--and hear only in this significant biography--was that as the Hyman - Jackson family expanded, so did their standard of living.There were housekeepers some of the time, and generally they didn't work out.But there was also the money for some travel and to send the two middle children--both girls--to prep school out of town.

In some ways, Jackson was a kind of "multiple" personality who found it more and more difficult to reconcile her roles or personae as happy homemaker yet sophisticated party person, a sensible but hard-headed and politically sensitive citizen who did not shy from pursuing justice to get a malfeasant public-school teacher fired, yet a woman who bemoaned the deep gulf between adopted town North Bennington, Vermont's locals and the faculty at the still-newish Benninngton College.

Shirley Jackson used all her writerly talents in her sunny letters home to mother, even (or especially)a women desperate to achieve a sunny tone in her letters to mother but in reality deeply given to depression, especially the "post-partum" type when the artist finishes a significant work.Just a plain old regular harried housewife, as she portrayed herself in SAVAGES and DEMONS, would have found life with four exuberant children and without today's labor-saving devices difficult enough, but with a full-time-plus career as author, her personal life became untenable even as her novels gained ever more acceptance and acclaim -- and she leaned on her crutches ever more.

In essence, as Shirley Jackson continued to expand her work by moving into novels instead of short stories, her crutches became her addictions.She had been taking Amphetamines since the 1950s when they were considered fairly harmless "diet drugs" or "pep pills."Shirley always worried about her weight, in large part occasioned by her fear she was a failure in the eyes of her mother.She died very overweight before her fiftieth birthday, a sad combination of liquor and drugs that would be roundly condemned today, and also without thanks from cigarettes and chocolates.Sadly, only the youngest child, Barry, was home at the time.

What also comes through in this book is the love all four of her children held for their mother, and a much more rounded picture of an author under great psychogical strain who strained even harder to fit a picture of small-town normality.In this book we get to hear how her real life differed from the charming LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES and RAISING DEMONS; also we get to understand why the back chambers of her tortured soul formed the impetus and inspiration for her very best writing.This is the only full-scale biography of Shirley Jackson we are likely to get, at least anytime soon.While not particularly "academic," the book is excellent and thorough journalism that is a pleasure to read even as we learn of the pain that composed so much of Shirley Jackson's life.Highest recommendation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deserves more than five stars.
PRIVATE DEMONS is the best biography I've ever read in my life.I first read it years ago when it first came out, and am on my second copy.

Shirley Jackson was an interesting and complex woman with talent to burn.She was comfortable with penning the pyscological/creepy/haunted house types of novels and equally comfortable turning out humorous short pieces about her family life.She was a genius with both.

More than one reader has experienced a little cognitive dissonance when realizing that Jackson wrote both "The Lottery" and "Charles"."THAT'S the SAME author?"is a constant refrain.

Author Judy Oppenheimer does an outstanding job of bringing this tremendous writer to life, as well as doing her fans a great service by bringing Jackson's name and reputation back to the literary forefront.Through skillful writing and research and generous interviews with Jackson's 4 children and many friends, the reader is mesmerized by the too-brief life that was behind Jackson's multifacted talent.

Writing this book could not have been an easy task, since Shirley Jackson contained multitudes, to quote Walt Whitman.PRIVATE DEMONS may be out of print now, but search your secondhand bookstores both in your city and online, and track down this treasure of a biography.You will not be sorry. ... Read more

10. The Witchcraft of Salem Village (Landmark Books)
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 160 Pages (1987-06-12)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$2.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394891767
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Stories of magic, superstition, and witchcraft were strictly forbidden in the little town of Salem Village. But a group of young girls ignored those rules, spellbound by the tales told by a woman named Tituba.When questioned about their activities, the terrified girls set off a whirlwind of controversy as they accused townsperson after townsperson of being witches. Author Shirley Jackson examines in careful detail this horrifying true story of accusations, trials, and executions that shook a community to its foundations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A very good preface to the subject of the Salem witchcraft trials
There were two reasons for my interest in this book; one is the fascinating issue of the Salem Witchcraft trials, a subject that has intrigued me for years (I first encountered this topic while reading articles dealing with matters of child testimony in court and children eyewitness in general) and the second is the writer, Shirley Jackson, whose work I try to read in full.
It is no wonder Shirley Jackson has chosen to write about this chapter in American history. Shirley Jackson, as her biography notes, was interested not only in witchcraft and the supernatural, but more in the power of the community, especially a small one, on an individual person. Jackson experienced this power as an evil force and she describes it as such in her work (a good example would be the book "We have always lived in the castle"). Several efforts were made to link Jackson's personal life with her work. After reading much of her work and biography one realizes how she must have sympathized with the accused in the Salem Witchcraft Trials, as a person who was also an outcast or a "strange" member of the community. It seems that the issue of the Salem Witchcraft Trials was more then just an historical chapter for Shirley Jackson.
But beyond the author herself, this is a description of a dead end situation for those wrongly accused of witchcraft and nothing they may possibly do could prove them innocent. Jackson does well in her effort to describe the political and religious atmosphere of the time before getting to the story itself.This is the horrible tale of a group of girls, who in their fear for themselves wrongly accuse other people in witchcraft. One event leads to another and pretty soon they are many steps beyond return. The atmosphere of the time enabled such misdeeds to happen.
As the book is intended for kids, the language and terminology are rather simple, yet Jackson manages to be clear and precise and does not let her thoughts and feelings (which we can only imagine) evade the writing. Even though Jackson describes the wrongdoings she does not dwell on the suffering of the accused when blamed, in prison, or the after come of the hanging itself. Jackson tries to stick to the historical details and facts and gives an objective description of the events themselves. However, Jackson does not wish to leave her historical story to mere facts, as facts are rather scarce in this case. The author tries to supply reasons and semi-explanations as to how something as terrible as this could have happened. Besides the court summaries, names and details of living people there are no real facts to hang on to, and what could be the facts in this case? The mere facts were only the tales and actions of the "Afflicted children" and the atmosphere in the country during the time of the Salem trials.
I found the book very clear and interesting although as an adult I feel I would like to further dwell into this issue. This is a good job of describing the episode to children ( I believe the readers age should be above the age of 10-11 and definitely not ages 4-8 as recommended in the product description!) with an effort to remain as neutral as possible, as much as can be done in such a story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Witchcraft Truth
Jackson shows me what it is like to live in 1692 and have magic on your hands! I definitly recomend this book for 12- adult!Jackson ROCKS!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent History Lesson for Children
This book was an excellent educational book and an easy read for children to understand and learn from.It is clear that this Martha Nassaer has an egotistic issue (arrogance) and has filled her review with what she believes to be impressive words; however, all were meaningless and unimpressive to this reader.It is unfortunate that people would use such a forum to dissuade others from reading such a wonderful book.Obviously, she is not an educator.I highly recommend it for children 8 and up.


1-0 out of 5 stars History through Rationalism - an occultic view
One must sometimes delve into the background of an author to acquire that person's worldview and how it molds their material, especially when the material being used for historical accounts for educational purposes."Private Demons" a biography of Shirley Jackson by Judy Oppenheimer, reveals a plethora of information about the author, including that fact that she was an occultist and active occult writer.This book is written with a religiously unilateral, occcult/rationalistic view.Despite intense political & religious controversy surrounding this story, there was an enormous amount of literature concerning broader aspects of the trials which held alternate viewsnot relayed in many of Ms. Jackson's often innaccurate and spiritually condescending renderings of the account.

Many believed the girls were commissioned by Satan to divide Christ's Kingdom through false accusations.Ms. Jackson mocks these Spiritual leaders by negating their position that the root of the dissention began with the afflicted girls and their occult involvement, and alludes that these leaders were vehicles of dissention in the community, by advocating that the colonists oppose Christian teachings.Spiritual leaders were trying to expose their belief that Satan's ploy was to sow seeds of division in the church.Ms. Jackson makes no tangential, historical reference to this fact, that spiritual leaders believed the root of the dissention began with occult involvement.

Ms. Jackson omits various aspects of the afflicted girl's involvement in occult practices, and substitutes a rationalistic world view to explain the occurences.Rationalism excludes Biblical interpretations and the value of conventions and dangers of popular superstitions.Ms. Jackson does not depict occult activities utilized by the afflicted women to avoid any inference as to the validity of an alternate power. Rather, she alleges that these girls merely "pretended" to be controlled by demons, ignoring the fact that many Christian leaders strongly believed in Satanic influence surrounding these issues.

You will notice that the bulk of the content provided by the author in the "afterword" section expresses her rationalistic viewpoint when she focuses heavily on demonology as a myth, and places blame for the witch trials on religious fervor and intolerance, boredom, psychological pressure, and possible physiological disorders.Ms. Jackson attempts to categorize spiritual leaders as zealots.

Ms. Jackson consistently negates to include accurate historical information throughout her book. Ms. Jackson could not include this information because it would not conform to her rationalistic view.It appears that Ms. Jackson selectively utilized facts she chose to paint the picture she wanted the reader to see by flavoring the historical rendering to that of her own world view.She does this by mocking the power of Satan, and accredits belief in his existence to ignorance.By enmeshing her view within her account of the actual events, Ms. Jackson emphatically and repeatedly negates the significance of a ubiquitous entity believed in by a multitude of religions still to this day.I would not recommend this material to be used in a primary or middle school setting as is has the potential to religiously sway an immature reader.It does not qualifies as a concise, historical rendering suitable to be contained as part of the curriculum in a public school setting based on the conjectural commentaries of religiously sensitive content espoused by Ms. Jackson.This material is more suitable to a mature reader who is readily equipped to separate true historical facts from biased conjecture.Please take notice as to the origin of where this book is listed in the Classified Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, under 100 PHILOSOPHY, PARAPSYCHOLOGY AND OCCULTISM, PSYCHOLOGY, 133.4 Demonology and witchcraft.The rendering is an edited account of history through a rationalistic world view, that is condescending and offensive to any aware Christian reader. ... Read more

11. The Masterpieces of Shirley Jackson
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 544 Pages (1996-06-17)
-- used & new: US$55.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1854874373
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This is a collection of three horror stories by Shirley Jackson: "The Haunting of Hill House", "The Turn of the Screw" and "The Lottery". ... Read more

12. Raising Demons (Large Print)
by Shirley Jackson
Hardcover: 453 Pages (2000)
-- used & new: US$36.99
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Asin: 0739464779
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars It never gets old
I first read this book during my middle school years (in spite of its title, which scared me way back when!). How I happened across it I couldn't tell you, but I'm glad I did. It has been a source of laughs for me many times over the years through my readings of it, at least 20, quite probably more. As I've grown older and had children, I've also grown to appreciate the book more. The nuances of family life - marriage and children and day-to-day occurrences, the minutiae that comprise the lives of us ordinary people -- all of that is here. Cleverly conveyed, bitingly sarcastic, touching, and just downright funny. If you can lay your hands on this book, read it, then read it again. Put it on your bookshelf and prize it amongst the best. Then read it again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shirley Jackson rocks!!!
The seller for this Shirley Jackson book was efficient and the transaction went smoothly.The book arrived in good condition in a little over a week.

5-0 out of 5 stars laugh until you cry
Along with Life Among the Savages, this is one of my very favorite books. If you have children, or have ever been a child, you will love it! Jackson was such a talented writer and possessed of such enormous wit and perception about human nature, you couldn't find a better book to raise your spirits along with her demons. I grew up reading and rereading this book, and continue to reread and to give it to friends who need cheering up.

5-0 out of 5 stars More about the Jackson family
This is the sequel to'Life among the savages', which describes the trials and tribulations of raising four children.Here we have more about the Jackson children as they grow older and more complex.Shirely jackson is wonderful at describing the weird behaviour of children, and the sometimes even weirder behaviour of adults.There's a wonderful description of the tensions that occur between mothers while watching a Little League baseball match in which her older son is playing, and a very funny account of a trip to New York, where her daughter Sally has her own unique view of the Empire State Building.Shirely Jackson describes the ups and downs of family life with great humour and a complete lack of sentimentality.She is very sound on the subject of husbands.Writing about the trials of being a faculty wife, she says "naturally a husband presents enormour irritations no matter what he is doing" (how could anyone argue with that?) Whether she is writing about a dangerous refrigerator, a daughter who does magic, or a husband judging a beauty contest, she is always very entertaining and very funny.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Eisenhower Years and All Those Dears--With Attitude!
RAISING DEMONS is the second and last of mystery writer Shirley Jackson's autobiographical accounts of her life as a small-town mommy in bucolic Bennington, Vermont in the Baby Boomer Fifties.Although many of the chapters in this book were originally published as short stories in various women's magazines and the NEW YORKER, in final form together the work functions as a good chronological novel set in the "Together-ness" mid-fifties.

But if the prospective reader thinks that Shirley Jackson's acceptance of the roles of Housewife, Mother of Four and Faculty Wife doomed her to an empty-headed vacuity, think again:there's a universe of verbal subversion going on in her mind and on these pages.

At the time RAISING DEMONS opens little Barry, with the remarkably flexiblenomenclature characteristic of this family now called "Mr. Beekman," is headed firmly toward toddlerhood and the older children (counting upwards Sally, Jannie, and elder son Laurie) are all spaced conveniently three years apart.And that, to hear her tell it, may be just about the only orderly domestic act Mrs. Stanley Hyman, the social and familial name for Our Heroine Shirley Jackson, saw to conclusion.Not that her children were outrageously disruptive or combative (but perhaps a bit more than other people's kids, she worries) --but they certainly had their own ways of talking and thinking.

Laurie fell in love with jazz and jivester slang, to the point where his father started fining him for that "oleaginous jargon" as though terms like "real cool" were real obscenity.Jannie's take on logic was to enter a house filled with toxic gas from a dead, antique refrigerator and when her mother confronted her with "That sign says DO NOT ENTER," countered with "I didn't think you meant me."(And I thought that trait only emerged in adolescence!)Sally so desperately wanted to help Laurie find a critical gym shoe for his basketball game that she ignored Dad's edict not to perform white magic:
" 'Laurie's shoe is weaker and creaker and cleaker and breaker and fleaker and greaker . . .'Sally wound through the study, eyes shut, chanting.Barry came behind her, doing an odd little two-step. . .'Now wait a minute here,' my husband began. . . .'We're just untending,' Barry explained reassuringly."

Quite often Shirley graciously consents to make herself the butt of the humor--and then, like a good mystery writer, offers a twist ending as she barbs her way out.When her husband joins the faculty at Bennington College, watch how la Jackson confesses mixed feelings about hubby's (all-girl) students as she breaks dams of faint praise:"I never saw any student, of whatever year, kick a sick cat.They were, as I say, neat, well-mannered, and demure.Their clothes were subdued, sometimes so much as to be invisible. . . "

As with LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES, even the most trivial of domestic upsets turn, in Jackson's high prowess, into high drama.And RAISING DEMONS is consistently funny and consistently filled with a wide variety of humor:sitcom-but-twisty outcomes, barbed repartee, and perhaps best of all the legendary Shirley Jackson revelations of the occult on brilliant display, here a kind of mythical kiddie-occult that at times out-Tolkiens Tolkien.All from their own little minds, too, which makes it all the more endearing and frightening.I know Modern Moms who have read RAISING DEMONS and love it for its pinpoint accuracy of family life, archaic references to dry-clutch automobiles and afternoon newspapers notwithstanding.

Unfortunately, and for no reason I can fathom, RAISING DEMONS is out of print as of this emendation (January 2006), except for a two-in-one edition of LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES and RAISING DEMONS put together by the Quality Paperback Book Club people.If DEMONS proves difficult to purchase, the neophyte might want to try out LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES first, because it is cheaper and comes first chronologically.Dollars to (1950s) donuts 'most all readers will be more than happy to scout out RAISING DEMONS after that!
... Read more

13. The Sundial
by Shirley Jackson
 Paperback: 1 Pages (1986-01-07)
list price: US$5.95
Isbn: 0140083170
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece for the intelligent
Shirley Jackson wrote this book just four years prior to her best novel, "We Have Always Lived in The Castle" and in many ways, the two books are like a set. Perhaps it is the grand style of living, the gracious ways in which one must behave while lacing poison into the sugar and the manner in which Jackson can write characters of the most horrific qualities in such a way that you are morbidly fascinated, often unable to take your eyes away from the page for what you are reading is so distasteful, but so very well written; it is akin to passing a fatalistic car accident and having to look; you've waited all this time and you DESERVE to look. Well such is the case with "The Sundial". Based on a premonition from dear, lovable Aunt Fanny, the world is coming to an end and it is only those who stay within the safety of the large house who will survive. The servants are dismissed, food and supplies are brought in en masse and then we watch and wait as we see the characters face the end of the world. The book is not about the end of the world-that would be far too easy. No, Shirley Jackson finds the people to be far more fascinating and as she always is,she is quite correct. We drive by this accident and almost bring the car to a complete stop, unable to tear our eyes away from both the brilliance and the horror. Jackson remains one of the finest American writes to have ever lived.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dark humor at the expense of the snooty
This is a really good novel. It's too bad it's out of print.

It's unlike most of Jackson's other novels -- it's more of a comedy among the upper class than her other work. Um, "comedy" might be misleading. I don't know how to describe Jackson's sense of humor. It's just shy of completely dark. People behave very badly. And yet you laugh.

Try it!!

5-0 out of 5 stars good
This wasnt her best, but if your new to Shirley Jacksons writing style, this is one to read.

3-0 out of 5 stars It's the end of the world as we know it
Even as great a writer as Shirley Jackson has to have a worst book (worst being a relative term, of course), and The Sundial would seem to be Jackson's.The story never had a strong Jackson feel to it because the characters were fairly shallow and unworthy of this reader's sympathy.As an outcast myself, I expect to find at least one troubled soul with which to identify and commiserate when I read Jackson.I initially had trouble distinguishing between the different characters because none of them were very deeply developed.While the occasional gripe or maudlin sentiment caught my attention, I found that I did not care for or about any of the dozen or so individuals described here.The Sundial is basically a weird end-of-the-world novel; the young Mr. Halloran has just died, and his mother now assumes the coveted role of head of household (due to her own husband's infirmities).As she begins to assert her authority and basically throw a few people out of "her" house, old Aunt Fanny encounters the ghost of her father, who warns her that the world is about to end, but that he will protect everyone who stays in the house.As several people begin to believe the truth of the premonition (including Mrs. Halloran), everyone is allowed to remain there.The number is increased by an obnoxiously loud friend of the Mrs. Halloran's and her two daughters, a strange girl sent by her father for temporary housing, and a gentleman whose background escapes me.These people, as might be expected, do not get along with each other very well at all.Mrs. Halloran, born of a low station, increasingly annoys her companions by assuming a dictatorial air, eventually insisting on wearing a crown.The novel leads up to the fateful day when the prophecy is supposed to be fulfilled.

While there are elements of humor in the conversations and interactions of characters who dislike one another as much as these do, there is no deep psychological meaning to be gleaned from the story.No character strikes me as real or more than remotely human, and the general attitude expressed as to the imminent end of the world is a much different reaction than I would expect of anyone.I have been reluctant to see other Jackson novels end, but I had no trouble putting this book down once I turned the final page.For someone wondering what Shirley Jackson is all about, I would not suggest reading this novel as an introduction; this one really does not fit the mold of her other major works.A Jackson fan such as myself will want to read The Sundial, of course, simply because Shirley Jackson wrote it, and it is quite likely that some will get more out of this book than I did.

4-0 out of 5 stars a good creepy tale
This is an especially appropriate book to read as we stand poised on the edge of a new millennium.An odd assortment of kin and hangers-on gather in a gothic mansion as, initially drawn by the lure of the family fortune, they get drawn into a sort of group apocalyptic psychosis.They end up burning an extensive library of books to make room for the food and supplies they are stocking up on and spend time their time planning out future mating arrangements, to guarantee the continuance of the race, and writing their own differing accounts of what is happening.

This may not be one of Jackson's greatest works, but as always, the story can be read either straight, for its entertainment value, or as a palimpsest, with hidden meanings lurking just below the surface.It could be a comment on religion or on 1950's nuclear hysteria or on any number of things; Jackson simply provides a creepy tale, delivered with wit and style, and it's up to readers to draw their own conclusions.

GRADE: B- ... Read more

14. The Lottery
by Shirley Jackson, Brainerd Duffield
 Paperback: 26 Pages (1983-06)
list price: US$5.50 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871292645
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15. A bibliographical guide to the history of Christianity (The University of Chicago publications in religious education ... Handbooks of ethics and religion)
by Shirley Jackson Case
 Hardcover: 265 Pages (1951)

Asin: B0007F03HS
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16. The Haunting Of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
Hardcover: 246 Pages (2003)
-- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000Z46XSE
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17. The Haunting of Hill House: A Drama of Suspense in Three Acts
by Shirley Jackson, F. Andrew Leslie
Paperback: 78 Pages (1998-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$5.63
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822205041
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars THE ghost story
Shirley Jackson is the master of story telling.She has a way of making you think about every word she writes.She makes even the smallest details a major part of the over all story (like the stone lions).The Haunting ofHill House is a great psychological horror novel that is notorious formaking you jump.By the tragic end, you are shocked that such a greatstory could come from one woman.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book with many applaudable aspects.
This book is filled with a captivating plot, and reveals the twists of a confused woman's mind as she is pulled further and further into darkness. This is a book you shouldn't miss. ... Read more

18. Life among the savages ; Raising demons
by Shirley Jackson
 Paperback: 310 Pages (1998)
-- used & new: US$16.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0965780066
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

2-0 out of 5 stars Hard to follow, hard to get into!
I was reading Life among the savages for book club.I tried, I really did but on page 80 I could no longer force myself to read this even though I was supposed to be able to discuss it at book club.My understanding is that the story is really a cool one and very interesting which I can't attest to because I couldn't make myself read it.The writing style was VERY hard to follow.There was a comma about every 5 words which changed from one subject to the next and then finally would end up back where you started.The one person at bookclub that liked it, ironically the girl that chose it, says that's the way she thinks so it was easy for her to follow but for the general person it was a bit to here-and-there-and-there-and-here.I think the story would have been good though and I might just go for the cliff-notes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Before there were mommy bloggers, there was Shirley Jackson
Awonderful chance to own both of Jackson's domestic memoirs in one, to trace the Hyman family from their apartment in New York to their homes in Vermont, along with pets and a box full of orphaned sporting equipment that never really seems to belong anywhere.

Jackson was a loving chronicler of family life, which might surprise her short story readers, as her stories tend towards the chilling reversal. There are plenty of reversals in these books, but they are comic in nature. Jackson excels at capturing the circling around of family life, the repetition, the endlessness of certain games, arguments and happenings. Her treatment of birthday parties, Little League games, shopping, cooking, enduring, is classic, familiar and most of all loving. She also writes at length of her family pets, the ways and vagaries of animals that possibly no one but the animal's owner could love.

This is also an interesting portrait of small town family life in decades long past, and it's a shock to read how autonomous her kids were, what the costs of things were, how everyone came home for lunch every day. And of course everyone is always smoking and drinking merrily away, because times were different back then.

Writers are by nature observers. When Shirley Jackson brings her sharp eye to bear on her own days spent as wife and mother, you feel so let in, so privileged as a reader to see this intimately into an aspect of someone's real life. I love her fiction, but understand why these books brought her a completely different group of admirers.

Dear Reader,

This is not a review of Shirley Jackson's wonderful semi-autobiographical memoirs of her life with boisterous and at times eerily unsettling kids in Vermont --LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES in 1952 followed by RAISING DEMONS in 1957.They have been well covered in reviews under their respective titles.

I write this--hoping it will get thru the Amazon filters--because this is the first time since the late 1980s that BOTH works together in one volume have become available.It was the Quality Paperback Book Club that published the duo back in 1988, and now it's available again thru Book-of-the-Month Club, Smart Reader Rewards, QPBC and other BOMC affiliates.

If you read the reviews you'll see that most people who read the (in print) LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES want to read RAISING DEMONS as well, but are usually stymied by its being out of print.Now interested readers can get both works in one volume at a good price.I hope Amazon carries it too.

--allen smalling
... Read more

19. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
Paperback: 176 Pages (1962)
-- used & new: US$8.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141191457
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Once I read this wonderful book I had to read it umpteen times. I just loved it. Every reading you find something new you missed before. I recommend you engross yourself in this good read. ... Read more

20. Sundial
by Shirley Jackson
 Paperback: Pages

Asin: B00113TDNU
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