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Raising Demons Paperback – October, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Read today, [Shirley Jackson’s] pieces feel surprisingly modern—mainly because Jackson refuses to sentimentalize or idealize motherhood…. [Jackson’s] household stories take advantage of the same techniques she developed as a fiction writer: the gradual buildup of carefully chosen detail, the ironic understatement, the repetition of key phrases and the unerring instinct for just where to begin and end a story.” 
-Ruth Franklin, New York Times Book Review 

"Charming…you’ll see every parenting stance you’ve ever adopted, every parent-story trope you’ve ever told or heard, expressed more perfectly than you ever could have…Reading Shirley Jackson, one of the great memoirists of family life, makes sharp those feelings once more—while reminding us that, yes, thank god and curse time, we too will one day look back on them across a gulf of years.”
-Dan Kois, Slate

"When it comes to just sheer honest, wry, frustrated, finding-ways-to-appreciate-it writing about family life, we all sit at Shirley Jackson’s feet"
-New York Times Motherlode

“Hilarious, subversive, sharp without being legal, and loving without an ounce of sentiment, Shirley Jackson’s more-or-less autobiographical account of life as a mother of four and faculty wife (and brilliant writer) is an eternal, comic joy.”
-Amy Bloom

"A housewife-mother’s frustrations are transformed by a deft twist of the wrist into, not a grim account of disintegration and madness, still less the poisoning of her family, but light-hearted comedy."
–Joyce Carol Oates

"Jackson isn’t all eerie uncertainties and lonely housewives. Those who know her work only from “The Lottery” or Hill House may be surprised to discover that she could also be very funny...Jackson’s two lighthearted memoirs, are filled with droll observations and amusing mishaps."
–William Brennan, Slate

“Consistently delightful.”
-San Francisco Chronicle

“A very pleasant form of pandemonium and hugely entertaining.”
-Kirkus --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

SHIRLEY JACKSON (1916–1965) first rose to fame with her short story “The Lottery.” Her six novels and many short stories confirmed her as an essential voice in twentieth century American fiction. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers (October 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897334132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897334136
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,285,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in 1919. She first received wide critical acclaim for her short story 'The Lottery', which was published in 1948. Her novels--which include The Sundial, The Bird's Nest, Hangsaman, The Road through the Wall, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House--are characterised by her use of realistic settings for tales that often involve elements of horror and the occult. Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are her two works of nonfiction. Come Along With Me is a collection of stories, lectures, and part of the novel she was working on when she died in 1965.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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 flexible nomenclature 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.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jayne S on February 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
I received "Raising Demons" as a gift from my teacher in 8th grade (1972) and have read it hundreds of times. I even named my children after the children in the book and find that all-too-often my life as a busy mother parallels Ms. Jackson's, even though the book takes place decades ago. The children are realistically eccentric, the relationships true, the pets demanding, and the house... well, anyone who has ever bought an old house will surely recognize the situations found here.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Herzig on August 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book should be included in the recent printings of "Life Among the Savages." (especially as "Life" is much too short!) It is very funny and also serves as an historical peek into the flavor of it's time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L O'connor on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Flowe on July 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Shirley Jackson proved with this book that she is not only an excellent mystery writer, but by writing Raising Demons and Life Among The Savages she can have the reader laughing until he cries!
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