- Series: FSG Classics
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2nd edition (March 16, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374529531
- ISBN-13: 978-0374529536
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 22.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lottery and Other Stories (FSG Classics) Paperback – March 9, 2005
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“The stories remind one of the elemental terrors of childhood.” ―James Hilton, Herald Tribune
“In her art, as in her life, Shirley Jackson was an absolute original. She listened to her own voice, kept her own counsel, isolated herself from all intellectual and literary currents . . . . She was unique.” ―Newsweek
From the Back Cover
"Jackson's great gift is not to create a world of fantasy and terror, but rather to discover the existence of the grotesque in the ordinary world. The grotesque is so powerful here just because it takes off from everyday life and constantly returns there until we do not know ourselves quite where we are."
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
My favorite story here is "The Daemon Lover." Herein, Jackson offers one of the most poignant, touching looks at loneliness, desperation, and fragility I have ever read. In the story, we spend a day with the protagonist as she prepares for her wedding, having become engaged just the night before to a James Harris. It is a depressing yet beautiful story, and I actually rate it higher than "The Lottery." The character of James Harris actually flitters throughout several of these stories, a phantom of sorts haunting several of Jackson's more memorable female characters.
Jackson deals with very serious subjects, and the illumination provided by her unusual perspectives on life is vivid and poignant. When addressing racism, she shows how even an individual with the best of intentions and good will can still represent an unfortunate racist attitude. In speaking to morality and social values, she shows how hard it can be for an individual to go against tradition and the community to do what is right. She offers powerful insights on child (and adult) psychology. Even the couple of stories I did not really "get" offered insight into the living of life. Readers should not expect a book of horror stories when they pick up this book. The stories can be maudlin and even depressing, but they are philosophical, psychological, and sociological rather than creepy or spooky.
One of my favorites was The Daemon Lover, where Jamie searches fruitlessly for her boyfriend who was supposed to meet her at her apartment so they could run away and get married. There was sadness in Trial by Combat, where Emily suspected an old woman in her boarding house of breaking into her room and stealing from her. I laughed reading My Life With R.H. Macy, in which a young woman describes her one day working at Macy's. I have worked retail before so I related to the main character's feeling that she wasn't even a person, just another employee number. I was angry while reading Flower Garden and felt sorry for Mrs MacLane, whose neighbors turned against her after she hired a black woman to work on her garden. Those were just a few of the stories in this collection. There are twenty five short stories and I enjoyed them all, though The Lottery still remains my favorite. The only thing I disliked about the collection was that some of the stories were too short. But I guess that is why they call it a short story, right? In some of the stories, the length prevented as much character development as I liked. Due to the length and the ambiguousness of some of the endings, it was left up to the reader's imagination to determine the characters' motives.
In the early stories, we follow the repercussions of a revealing event in a character's life. We see how the character reacts and is changed by this strange and important junction. The man you are supposed to marry doesn't show up, and you go looking for him. A single mother moves into the house you always wanted, and your friendship with her is tested and broken by racism. A literary agent, you discover that your whole life is founded on a foolish hope you had when you were young, and you don't know how else to operate, so you gather your cynicism around you as a shield, but continue to supplant one foolish hope with another. The conclusions of these stories, often about social convention, the double-sided and impossible expectations of women, the incredibly nosy and judgmental circles in which they move, ended on abrupt, depressing notes.
Though I appreciated Jackson's style, pace, and unique attention to detail, it seemed to me that even the early stories ached to be...well, weirder. She had such a talent for the uncanny, the slowly building feeling of unease. My favorite stories in this collection were the stories in which Jackson got really weird with it.
I gave this book 4 stars because I think any aspiring writer should read it. Jackson's way of reminding us of our frenzied, most irrational thoughts is something to be studied. The way she builds unease, the way she picks her situations, there's a lot to learn from.
As a reader, my favorite stories, the weirdest ones, are:
"The Witch"--acknowledgement of the dark, macabre side of the child's nature, also, very funny.
"The Daemon Lover"--Kelly Link took her inspiration from Jackson, or from the Scottish ballad about James Harris, the demon lover. James Harris happens to the be the name of a man in many of the stories. The stories skirt around James Harris, or Mr. Harris, the --he's never the main character, but is often the shadowy catalyst of the story's action. Anyway, this is the story that I think represents the bridge between an anxious litfic story that wants to be uncanny, and the minute psychological shifts in a decaying psyche.
"Pillar of Salt" Describes the claustrophobic, frenzied psychosis of a small-town woman in a big city.
"The Tooth" My second favorite! Listen to this: "It was when she stepped a little aside to let someone else get to the basin and stood up and glanced into the mirror that she realized with a slight stinging shock that she had no idea which face was hers."
"The Lottery" Nothing to be said about this one that hasn't already been said. Classic, brilliant, disturbing, so disturbing, one of the cannon of greats.