Interesting collection, Legendary writer – “The Lottery and Other Stories” by Shirley Jackson

As far as horror goes, there’s not much in this collection one would call terrifying.

However, the collection contains 25 amazingly well-constructed short stories.  In my book, that constitutes a total win.

Perhaps the grand dame of literary horror, Ms. Jackson is best known for her twisted story, “The Lottery,” which is featured happily at the end of this collection of her lesser-known works.  (“We have always lived in the castle” and “The Haunting of Hill House” aren’t in these pages, by the by.  These two, scarier, full novels are worth a read, if you’re looking for truly scary stories.)

The stories gathered here showcase Ms. Jackson’s remarkable ability to write unsettling pieces.  In the book’s opener “The Intoxicated,” a party guest finds himself discussing end of the world theories with the party hosts teenage daughter.  In “The Daemon Lover,” a woman spends several delicately detailed hours waiting for her fiancee to arrive to whisk her away to be married, only to wind up on a search for him and the potential realization that he’s gone forever.

Even if they’re not horror by the standard definition, they’re nervous-making, and really interesting to read.  Jackson was a master of story creation, and knows how to wield a twister of an ending.

Her most famous story,  ‘The Lottery,” is the final piece in this collection.

And it’s hands-down the star of this show.

Jackson’s short story reviled readers upon its original 1948 publication in The New Yorker.  The story details a small town gathering for their annual lottery.  Various families are introduced, and it seems to be business as usual.  Each family draws a small piece of paper.  The Hutchinson family gets the one with the black spot, and a second round results in the wife being the “winner” of the lottery.  Except that this lottery is one you don’t want to win, as it results in being stoned to death by the rest of the townspeople as a sacrifice.  (For what, we’re never told.)  The story is quick and leaves a lot to be questioned, and it’s unforgettable.

Though I found this entire collection to be lovely, my suggestion for those seeking thrills and chills would be to start your Shirley Jackson search somewhere else – perhaps with one of the more famous novels she wrote.

However, missing out on “The Lottery” would be a huge mistake, and a disservice to yourself as a reader.

It’s that good.

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About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on October 24, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ooh, I read The Lottery for my high school speech team. Creepy stuff.

    Too bad I was an extremely mediocre prose reader.

  2. I remember Pat Jaques directed “The Lottery” at AHS. He told us it’s all an allegory for communism, or something. Becky Black and Jake Zinke were in it.

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