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.
Shirley Jackson, I’m trying to like you–I really am. The only story I remember reading previous to The Haunting of Hill House, or to this particular collection of short stories, is the title story from this book, The Lottery. I read it for a short story class in university and was disgusted when I reached the end of the story; something that started off sounding so innocent and happy, ultimately ending in the stoning of someone.
Not what I expected.
What I also didn’t expect was what I got when I picked up this book. I thought it would be a good read for the Bout of Books readathon this past October, breaking up the monotony of reading novel after novel. In a way, it was a good book to have on hand, but I felt that the premise of the book that was listed on Amazon or on Goodreads is misleading. The Lottery, the story, is very much a horror-in-disguise kind of story, but the rest of the stories in the book–save for a couple of them–are just so so. Nothing too special.
Don’t get me wrong–I do appreciate Jackson’s writing. She can tell so much in such a short story through descriptions and dialogue, and she has such a range of storytelling–from the seemingly innocent to the truly horrific and weird. Sometimes the point of a story is so subtle that you’ll find the need to go back and reread it to find out what exactly Jackson was trying to say. I found this happening for a few of the stories, the urge to go back and reread. This could be because I read the book in five separate sittings. I’m learning that short stories are best read over a longer period of time, absorbing each story on its own and stopping to really think about them, rather than immediately going onto the next.
If you’re looking for a scary read, this might not be the book for you–despite what the back of the book may say. If you’re looking for stories exactly like The Lottery, you won’t find too many of them. There may be the odd story to grab your attention, but in the end this is best read a story here, a story there, rather than in one sitting. If you’re looking for true storytelling and a penchant for both the innocent and strange, then this is a collection for you.
Read More of My Shirley Jackson Reviews
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