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The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson: Everything is ambiguous and foreboding



Shirley Jackson's writing can be described as extremely Shirley Jacksony.

The only one of her story collections to be published during her lifetime has FINALLY accomplished what I've been waiting for with her. I've read two of her novels, and each time it's felt vaguely unfulfilling and like it's SO CLOSE to being something I would enjoy. But after reading 26 of her stories in a row, I can say "Ohhhhhhhhh."


I was so struck by the insane similarities between her work and Edward Hopper's while I was reading that I was like "This must be a common thing. Like, something that everyone thinks. Because not every artist goes 'what about like...a sad woman sitting in a room and that's it?'"

basically every Shirley Jackson story

If I were in college, I would be so totes jazzed to write essays on these stories. "I can SAY THINGS about SOCIETY," I would say. As it is, after each one, I went "Huh. Seems like there's something important there." Then I thought I should read that new biography of her that I scorned at Book Expo this year and then moved onto the next story.

Basically, Shirley Jackson was born in 1916, died in 1965 of heart failure, which is TOO SOON, and wrote about feminism and racism and awesomeism (awesomeism is what Shirley Jackson had and what is therefore reflected in her work). She does a lot with mundane detail combined with something always being slightly wrong. It's pretty damn masterful and let's all be impressed by her and read more of her stories and maybe the aforementioned biography.


Shirley Jackson would want it mentioned that another Shirley Jackson comes up when you google image her, and this Shirley Jackson was the first African-American female Ph.D graduate of MIT, so good on you, you two Shirley Jacksons. You are both great.

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