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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 alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Ms. Jackson does an amazing job at quickly establishing character and a sense of place / environment in every story. The worlds that she creates (with a very economic use of prose) are real as can be and leap off of the page.
I found Part One of the text to be very intriguing. Part One consists of 6 stories and all contain a lonely protagonist, all female except one. The stories are thoughtful and nicely executed, although I did not empathize with a single protagonist. However, I am not sure that I was supposed to? The last story of this section, “My Life with R.H. Macy” is clever and quite good. It stands out.
The best stories in this text are those where the point Ms. Jackson was trying to make is not so subtle. “Of Course” and “Come Dance with Me in Ireland” come to mind as I look back on the work as a whole.
This collection concludes with Jackson’s masterpiece “The Lottery”. I have read “The Lottery” a dozen times over the years and each time some different little detail in the text chills me to my core. I have never read this piece without being disturbed. It is the little subtleties in the text that are horrifying and this piece is a great choice to end this collection. One of the best American short stories ever written.
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.