Shirley Jackson is funny

I continue to adore Shirley Jackson’s essays/nonfiction chapters about raising her four kids in a possibly haunted house in small town Vermont in the late 1940s-early 1950s. Life Among the Savages lived up to all my expectations about the essays’ hilariousness and strangeness.

To wit: I was giggling audibly while reading them on the sofa next to my husband. He asked me what was so funny, so I read him the paragraph that ends with her daughters’ singing “Baby ate a spider, baby ate a spider.” Then he started laughing.

Him: Who wrote this?
Me: Shirley Jackson, you know the woman who wrote The Lottery? [You know, that story you read in high school about the woman who ends up getting stoned to death? aka NOT FUNNY РKate]

I wasn’t expecting the first set of her essays to be so entertaining, but these lived up to every expectation I had. Definitely recommended.

Now I want to read all of the Shirley Jackson

Let Me Tell You is a compilation of essays and short stories by Shirley Jackson, who you may know best as the author of “The Lottery”, a story about a stoning that takes place in what otherwise seems to be contemporary America. (In one of the essays, she talks about the genesis of that story. She’d been reading a book about human sacrifice, and, whilst walking her kids to school, started thinking about how such a thing would work in the small town in which she lived.)

It was deeply entertaining – some of the stories were better than the others – but the best part of a good book were her essays. One of the best was when she was describing the old house she and her family lived in, and its ghosts which were sometimes friendly and sometimes not, but by and large seemed to approve of them living there. The whole book was smart and entertaining.

Highly recommended.