The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House (1959) *

* (restored/Halloween countdown post #11)
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‘I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there…I delight in what I fear.’ — Shirley Jackson

‘North Bennington is a tiny village less than a mile from the otherwise isolated Bennington campus in Vermont. Shirley Jackson was married to Stanley Edgar Hyman, a literary critic who taught at the college. And she spent her life in the town, raising four children, presiding over a chaotic household that was host to Ralph Ellison, Bernard Malamud and Howard Nemerov, and at times going quietly crazy — and writing, always, with the rigor of one who has found her born task. Six novels, two bestselling volumes of deceptively sunny family memoirs and countless stories before her death at 48, in 1965.

‘Jackson was in many senses already two people when she arrived in Vermont. One was a turgid, fearful ugly-duckling, permanently cowed by the severity of her upbringing by a suburban mother obsessed with appearances. This half of Jackson was a character she brought brilliantly to life in her stories and novels from the beginning: the shy girl, whose identity slips all too easily from its foundations. The other half of Jackson was the expulsive iconoclast, brought out of her shell by marriage to Hyman — himself a garrulous egoist very much in the tradition of Jewish ’50’s New York intellectuals — and by the visceral shock of mothering a quartet of noisy, demanding babies. This second Shirley Jackson dedicated herself to rejecting her mother’s sense of propriety, drank and smoked and fed to buttery excess — directly to blame for her and her husband’s early deaths — dabbled in magic and voodoo, and interfered loudly when she thought the provincial Vermont schools were doing an injustice to her talented children. This was the Shirley Jackson that the town feared, resented and, depending on whose version you believe, occasionally persecuted.

‘The hostility of the villagers further shaped her psyche, and her art; the process eventually redoubled so the latter fed the former. After the enormous success of “The Lottery,” a legend arose in town, almost certainly false, that Jackson had been pelted with stones by schoolchildren one day, then gone home and written the story. The real crisis came near the end of her life, resulting in a period of agoraphobia and psychosis; she wrote her way through it in We Have Always Lived in the Castle. In that novel, Jackson brilliantly isolates the two aspects in her psyche into two odd, damaged sisters: one hypersensitive and afraid, unable to leave the house, the other a sort of squalid demon prankster who may or may not have murdered the rest of her family for her fragile sister’s sake.

‘Shirley Jackson wrote about the mundane evils hidden in everyday life and about the warring and subsuming of selves in a family, a community and sometimes even in a single mind. She wrote about prejudice, neurosis and identity. An unfortunate impression persists (one Jackson encouraged, for complicated reasons) that her work is full of ghosts and witches. In truth, few of her greatest stories and just one of her novels, The Haunting of Hill House, contain a suggestion of genuinely supernatural events. Jackson’s forté was psychology and society, people in other words — people disturbed, dispossessed, misunderstanding or thwarting one another compulsively, people colluding absently in monstrous acts. She had a jeweler’s eye for the microscopic degrees by which a personality creeps into madness or a relationship turns from dependence to exploitation. Judy Oppenheimer’s fine 1988 biography of Jackson is called Private Demons, but it could have been called Little Murders.— Jonathan Lethem, Salon

 

 

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Further

Shirley Jackson: The Full Wiki
A modest Shirley Jackson resource page
‘Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House: An Introduction’
‘Shirley Jackson: House and Guardians’
‘SHIRLEY JACKSON: Delight in What I Fear’
‘The Witchcraft of Shirley Jackson’
‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson: The Paperback Covers’
Shirley Jackson @ Goodreads
Buy Shirley Jackson’s books

 

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The Sketches

‘Shirley Jackson’s great-great-grandfather, Samuel Bugbee, designed beautiful Nob Hill mansions, and her grandfather was a prominent San Francisco architect as well. Jackson was sufficiently imbued with an architect’s brain to draw rough schematics for the houses in her fiction, unbuildable but detailed enough to guide her thinking about which rooms Eleanor would run through to reach the tower in The Haunting of Hill House’s penultimate scene. These drawings, found in Jackson’s papers at The Library of Congress, inspire a particular form of creative thinking and planning. Rather than creating a structure for a world of words, Jackson envisions structures that she will then use words to describe.’ — Susan Scarf Merrell, Writers’ Houses

 

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Remembrance

 

‘Forgotten now as a writer, Stanley Edgar Hyman — a brash, blunt, myopic polymath, blimpish in form and bearded, we thought, at birth — was once a boy-wonder: a New Yorker staffer at 24 and a literary critic whose forte was the exploration of figurative language. Stanley Hyman was also the most popular teacher in a school which prided itself (shades of Miss Jean Brodie) on being in the prime of life: a dramatic experiment in female education in full bloom. Even the 300 acre country campus –- hay fields and spiky marsh grasses, cow and carriage barns, apple orchards, and a brooding greystone mansion — radiated the sense of privilege that came with being the right place at the right time …

‘Stanley’s wife -– and that’s how we thought of her -– was the writer Shirley Jackson. The first thing you heard about Shirley Jackson was that she was a witch. Shirley tacitly encouraged this rumor, although the evidence supporting it would have been admissible only in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Shirley had written a book about witchcraft; she was known to “read” Tarot cards; she inserted into her exquisitely written fictions quotations from her large collection of grimoires and magic books; and she gave to some of her many cats -– eleven cats! they must be her familiars! — the names of the dukes and demons of Hell.

‘Shirley was a wide pale woman with a face like a baleful moon. Her fine skin glowed with a pallor that looked unhealthy even in a climate cold enough for “winter white” to be a seasonal description of a woman’s complexion. Her hair was sandy, lank, and raked back in a bun from which wisps and hanks always escaped. Her eyes were alive (as Stanley’s were not) and protected by large unfashionable glasses, but they were like windows whose shades had been pulled down. Light shone behind them, but not for us. Shirley gave the impression of never wanting to mix with her husband’s students. She had her reasons.

‘Shirley was even bulkier than Stanley, and so, naturally, the Hyman family car was the smallest possible Volkswagen bug. Shirley was the chauffeur -– Stanley never did anything practical if he could help it -– and on-campus sightings of the two of them struggling to enter and exit their tiny vehicle were highly prized. One night, I watched Shirley and Stanley try to walk through a wide-open auditorium doorway side by side. They wedged together in the doorjamb for an awful moment; then Stanley, decisive as ever, burst free.’ — Joan Schenkar, Wall Street Journal

 

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SJ at the Movies


The 1963 movie based on ‘THoHH’


The 1999 movie based on ‘THoHH’ – Trailer


Excerpt from a film based on ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’


A 1969 short film based on Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’

 

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Interview

 

I still remember the day we were assigned to do a research paper on a piece of literature we had read in my English 198 class. The story I chose to write my paper on was “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, it was one of my favorites. Luckily for me Mrs. Jackson lived in my neighborhood and my parents were friends with her and her husband. So I knew it would not be difficult to set up an interview with her for my research paper. One day after getting home from school, I met my mother in the living room so I told her that I was doing a research paper on Mrs. Jackson and asked if she could set up an interview for me. The following day I was thrilled to hear that my mom had successfully arranged for me to have my interview.

On the day of the interview I walked to Mrs. Jackson’s home, it was only about five minutes away from my home. I remember feeling a bit nervous as I pressed the door bell, within a couple of seconds Mrs. Jackson opened the door and welcomed me with a beautiful smile. As we walked towards the parlor she asked how my parents were doing, I told her they were doing fine. After that she asked me if I was thirsty, I kindly said I was not. She paused for a few seconds than told me to begin.

Interviewer: Mrs. Jackson, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. I have a couple of questions to ask.

Mrs. Jackson: You’re welcome, so what would you like to know?
Interviewer: To start off, where were you born? And did you grow up there?

Mrs. Jackson: I was born in San Francisco. No, I actually grew up in California.

Interviewer: were you interested in writing as a child? Or was it something you developed later in life?

Mrs. Jackson: I became interested in writing at an early age. I actually won my first poetry prize when I was twelve. Later on in high school I kept a diary to record my writing progress.

Interviewer: That’s very interesting. Have you ever used a place you have lived in as a setting for any of your works?

Mrs. Jackson: Yes, in my first novel the setting was based on Burlingame, a suburb I lived in, in San Francisco.

After my first set of questions Mrs. Jackson asked if we could take a break, she than walked into the kitchen. While I was by myself in the parlor, I noticed some family pictures on the wall and next to them were some of the awards she had won for her works. When she returned from the kitchen, she brought some sandwiches and drinks. I took a sip of orange juice then continued with the interview.

Interviewer: In “The Lottery” what point were you trying to make by having the villagers stone one of their members.

Mrs. Jackson: I wanted to dramatize graphically the pointless violence in people’s lives, to reveal the general inhumanity of man.

Interviewer: I see. As I read the story in school, I realized that the lottery was a means of finding a sacrifice for the season’s harvest. Is that the only thing the lottery is supposed to represent?

Mrs. Jackson: That’s the main thing it represents. However, it also illustrates how societies tend to hold onto traditions, even meaningless ones, revealing our need for ritual and belonging.

Interviewer: Finally Mrs. Jackson, what message are you trying to get across to the public with this story?

Mrs. Jackson: I want people to learn that, “custom and law, when sanctioned by a selfish, unthinking populace, can bring an otherwise democratic and seemingly just society to the brink of paganism”.

Interviewer: That’s very interesting. Well Mrs. Jackson, I think I have enough information. Thank you for allowing me to interview you.

When we finished the interview Mrs. Jackson walked me to the door, I thanked her again for her time, than I started to head back home. When I got home and began to write my paper, I was just amazed at how fortunate I was, to have the author of one of the stories I read in school as a neighbor. The next week of school I got my graded paper and I was not surprised by my grade. I smiled as I read all the positive remarks my teacher had written down about my paper.

 

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Book

Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House

Penguin

‘Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.

Eleanor Vance has always been a loner–shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. “She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words.” Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by “supernatural manifestations.” He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor’s childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague’s bizarre study–along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House — a notorious estate in New England.

‘Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms — a place “without kindness, never meant to be lived in ….” Although Eleanor’s initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural — she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone — neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James’s classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.’ — Naomi Gesinger

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Excerpts

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Dr. John Montague was a doctor of philosophy; he had taken his degree in anthropology, feeling obscurely that in this field he might come closest to his true vocation, the analysis of supernatural manifestations. He was scrupulous about the use of his title because, his investigations being so utterly unscientific, he hoped to borrow an air of respectability, even scholarly authority, from his education. It had cost him a good deal, in money and pride, since he was not a begging man, to rent Hill House for three months, but he expected absolutely to be compensated for his pains by the sensation following upon the publication of his definitive work on the causes and effects of psychic disturbances in a house commonly known as “haunted.” He had been looking for an honestly haunted house all his life. When he heard of Hill House he had been at first doubtful, then hopeful, then indefatigable; he was not the man to let go of Hill House once he had found it.

*

Eleanor Vance was thirty-two years old when she came to Hill House. The only person in the world she genuinely hated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. She disliked her brother-in-law and her five year old niece, and she had no friends.

*

It started again, as though it had been listening, waiting to hear their voices and what they said, to identify them, to know how well prepared they were against it, waiting to hear if they were afraid. So suddenly that Eleanor leaped back against the bed and Theodora gasped and cried out, the iron crash came against their door, and both of them lifted their eyes in horror, because the hammering was against the upper edge of the door, higher than either of the them could reach, higher than Luke or the doctor could reach, and the sickening, degrading cold came in waves from whatever was outside the door.

Eleanor stood perfectly still and looked at the door. She did not quite know what to do, although she believed that she was thinking coherently and was not unusually frightened, not more frightened, certainly, than she had believed in her worst dreams she could be. The cold troubled her even more than the sounds; even Theodora’s warm robe was useless against the icy little curls of fingers on her back. The intelligent thing to do, perhaps, was to walk over and open the door; that, perhaps, would belong with the doctor’s views of pure scientific inquiry. Eleanor knew that, even if her feet would take her as far as the door, her hand would not lift to the doorknob; impartially, remotely, she told herself that no one’s hand would touch that knob; it’s not the work hands were made for, she told herself. She had been rocking a little, each crash against the door pushing her a little backward, and now she was still because the noise was fading. “I’m going to complain to the janitor about the radiators,” Theodora said from behind her. “Is it stopping?”

“No,” Eleanor said, sick. “No.”

It had found them. Since Eleanor would not open the door, it was going to make its way in. Eleanor said aloud, “Now I know why people scream, because I think I’m going to,” and Theodora said, “I will if you will.”and laughed so that Eleanor turned quickly back to the bed and they held each other, listening in silence. Little pattings came from around the doorframe, small seeking sounds, feeling the edges of the door, trying to sneak a way in. The doorknob was fondled, and Eleanor, whispering, said, “Is it locked?” and Theodora nodded and then, wide-eyed, turned to stare at the connecting bathroom door. “Mine’s locked too,” Eleanor said against her ear, and Theodora closed her eyes in relief. The little sticky sounds moved on around the doorframe and then, as though a fury caught whatever was outside, the crashing came again, and Eleanor and Theodora saw the wood of the door tremble and shake, and the door move against its hinges.

“You can’t get in,” Eleanor said wildly, and again there was silence, as though the house listened with attention to her words, understanding, cynically agreeing, content to wait. A thin little giggle came, in a breath of air through the room, a little mad rising laugh, the smallest whisper of a laugh, and Eleanor heard it all up and down her back, a little gloating laugh moving past them around the house, and then she heard the doctor and Luke calling from the stairs and, mercifully, it was over.

—-

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David. Your link didn’t work, but, based on the prompt, I’m strongly guessing it had something to do with Sondheim? ** Dominik, Hi!!! My favorites? Oh, wow, uh … I like Sean Landers’ trees, the Martian language thing is interesting, the Jesse Howard things, and I love Frances Stark always, so maybe them? LA plans: lots of interviewing prospective crew and collaborators, finding the house location (top priority), auditioning actors, figuring out the exact amount of money we need, deciding precisely when we’ll shoot the film, and tons and tons of haunted house attractions!!!! I kind of worship Mexican food, or my tongue does, and Zac just found this new Mexican food place in the 11th arr, and we ate there last night, and it’s the best Mexican food in Paris by a million miles, so now I have a place to sate my cravings in-between US trips! I would say love has excellent taste in both tattoos and their placement. Love making Destroyer wander around in the audience of his gig that I’m attending tonight so I can thank him in person for letting Zac and me use his song for free in ‘Permanent Green Light’, G. ** _Black_Acrylic, It’s true, right? I didn’t know there was a film about Wain. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch? Urgh. ** Sypha, I thought Louis Wain might lure you into the blog’s VIP room. Awesome! Everyone, the mighty writer James Champagne, best known around here by his local moniker Sypha, wrote a piece about one of yesterday’s ‘Words’ stars Louis Wain for the late, great Yuck ‘n’ Yum zine years ago that I can guarantee is a killer read, so do think about being killed in the good way by it by clicking this. Me neither about that martian language person. So interesting, no? Use it! I think she’s very dead and won’t mind. ** Steve Erickson, Oh, poor, poor you for having had your mind picture said speculative film, although, okay, it does have camp classic pre-written all over it. There really is a lot of posthumous Mark Fisher popping up, isn’t there? Nice in the obvious way, but yeah. ‘Jack Bauer’s Tulpa’! What a title. A lot to live up there, bud. ** Robert, Thanks a bunch. I’m assuming the is-it-or-is-it-not-sentimental effect is intentional, or I was hoping so. Yeah, man, I get in those states. I think it’s like the necessary rough patches that make writers tough enough to forge ahead with their difficult life decision or something? I read Emily Dickinson in high school, like I guess all teens do, and I was like, blah, old stuff, I don’t care, but then I tried reading her years later, and it was, like, holy shit, she’s completely radical and amazing. Yeah, she was quite something style-wise, externally and inside. How’s Friday? ** Okay. I decided to bring some rare class to the Halloween countdown and restore this old, formerly dead post about Shirley Jackson’s great and spooky novel. See you tomorrow.

13 Comments

  1. David Ehrenstein

    Yes Sondheim

    Shirley Jackson is a veestatingly original writer — for “The Lottery” alone. “The Haunting of Hill House” underscored more of what we hear thanan what we see.Robert Wise’s film adaptationis devestating. The Jan DeBont remake is poor.

  2. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Hahaha. Nah, I don’t see where Mr. Styles is a bad actor at all. He’s competent at worst. You know I’m looking for any chink in the armor there (and really, I found it in his fashion sense, haha; just terrible looking clothes he wears, ugg), and I’m not finding it in his acting. We’ll have to see how My Policeman, his next movie, goes.

    Speaking of next movies, I’m sure you’ve seen something about Mr. Chalamet’s Bones and All. He’s a cannibal!

    Man, it’s all so boring anymore, no?

    Who defines “shocking,” “brave,” and “courageous” these days? Like I was telling Mieze the other day, when you’ve read and watched and looked at and listened to the art we have over the last 30 years, all this stuff is so ho hum.

    But hell, maybe it’ll be a good movie, who knows?

    I think some places are calling it Indigenous People’s Day or something now? The feds aren’t, though, so it’s still Columbus Day, and I get the day off (with pay).

    Thanks. Yeah, I’ve got three things I want to get on with the writing. I’m “inspired” or whatever suddenly. The fart…hmm, that’s going to be something that’s more mentioned but that will be used right off the bat to set a theme throughout this novel, as well as to hint at something else more concrete in it. Also, farts are pretty funny, so…hehehe.

    So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Probably will talk to Mieze and Rigby too. Gym, of course. A big cheat meal Saturday night. Probably cheeseburgers and fries from Five Guys. And then just looking at the interwebs a little and giving my shit-takes where appropriate.

    Hope your weekend is swell.

  3. Dominik

    Hi!!

    I haven’t read the book – “The Haunting of Hill House,” I mean – only seen the unfortunate series adaptation. Maybe it’s time to rectify that.

    You’ll be busy in L.A.! But, apart from the budget considerations, your plans sound like some of the really fun parts of film production. Especially the auditions and the haunted house attractions. Ah, I can’t wait for you to come back and tell me/us all about the entire trip, haha!

    I can’t remember the last time I had Mexican food. That place Zac just found sounds divine!

    How was the Destroyer show? Did love tempt him to wander around in the audience a bit?

    Love turning everyone’s fingers into tampons, except for ours, of course, Od.

  4. Jack Skelley

    Dendrite — I went on a Shirley Jackson binge this year w Haunting and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Plus the new biography: Her mother really fucked her up. What David Ehrenstein sez about the movies is correct. Therefore, thank you both. Glad yr Parisian taco thirst is sated. Lawndale is playing Bergamont Station Halloween gig Saturday nite. Boo!! what else? Plenty of nothing… seee yooo soooooo!!

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    Like Jack, I went on a recent SJ binge and can confirm my adoration of these books. My mum saw the recent biopic, not sure of its merits but Elisabeth Moss seems a good piece of casting.

    Yesterday I cancelled my part in the Zoom Short Story class, because I just don’t think I could do that from the room here in the East Leeds Recovery Hub. The tutor was cool about it. This November though, the Flash Fiction course will start and I will doubtless be based in my new flat by then. Not long to go now, surely!

  6. l@rst

    Hey D-

    Sorry, missed you’re last response.. it has been very busy in Larstland! And yes :re Library attacks the USA is fucking nuts. I blame the internet! 😉

    The first session of the Poet’s Studio was fantastic, he immediately pointed out all of the flaws of a typical writing workshop (especially people critiquing other based on what they’ve be told they are supposed to say) and so we’re just there to slowly over 8 months learn what kind of poets we all are and help each other reach out goals. Sounds pretty cool huh? And we are going to ignore the imaginary “reader” that we can tend to write for. Something I’m always working on. Writing for myself.

    Here’s a flipbook for the zine! It’s not the ultimate format but looks pretty good as far is digital goes. https://heyzine.com/flip-book/ff1fff5d46.html

    I hope your LA visit is super duper. I’ll be tuning in to make sure it is!

  7. Jamie

    Howdy D,
    I’m a big fan of this book and I think it might well have been this post that pointed me in its direction, so thanks again.
    Yesterday’s post was a real thing of beauty. I went through it a few times and was bewitched by something else each time.
    How was the Destroyer gig? Excellent, I hope.
    To answer your question from Thursday – it was the Glaswegian soccer team Celtic, who I think are entirely unrelated to the Boston Celtics, and they lost badly.
    What’s your weekend plans? Hope it’s a lovely one.
    Soporific love,
    Jamie

  8. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – Nice to see Aunt Shirley highlighted. Always loved how the first paragraph of the book is repeated verbatim at the end, having taken on a fresh context. It’s a narrative move I can’t think of (m)any other writers pulling off. Are there other books you can think of that do that — or a similar move?

    Been enjoying the blog’s run recently. I’m back from the writing retreat, which was blissful and super productive. I’ve been drafting off the momentum of the stay there and writing pretty nonstop. Getting close to finishing a draft of the new novel.

    Julian Calendar just released a new 3-song EP. It’s a left turn for us and big step forward. Created using samples, keyboards, MIDI recording. Pandemic forced us to throw out all the old tools + start fresh. Here’s the link: https://juliancalendar.bandcamp.com/album/forgeries-of-the-future

    How’s movie prep going? You had any time for the short fiction?

  9. Prince S

    Hi Dennis, what a great & timely post! I love Shirley’s short stories, and been meaning to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle for years now… Well, now I know what to read for Halloween. How’ve you been? You were in my dreams a few nights ago.

  10. Brian

    Hey, Dennis,

    Brian here, after another lengthy but not unwatchful absence: I hope all is well, indeed better than it was last time I spoke to you; that every one of your projects is proving fruitful, your personal life going swimmingly, the spirit of the season doing you right. I’ve been following this blog’s Halloween countdown with great pleasure. Today’s post is extra special, because this is one of my very favorite novels, and Jackson one of my very favorite writers. I adore her short stories and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” but “Haunting” is the supreme accomplishment for me, just perfection. It’s been years since I last read it; this post makes me want to crack it open again.

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, especially short fiction, because it’s been a weirdly long time since I last sustainedly read that, and I always feel inspired to actually try writing again when I read short stories, unlike with novels. One of the collections I read was your own “Ugly Man”, which I found totally wonderful, of course. Such a treat to see your prose operate in a mostly overtly comedic register. “The Anal Retentive Line-Editor” is an all-timer, obviously, but I thought “The Ash Gray Proclamation” and “Santa Claus vs Johnny Crawford” (which, and I really mean this, completely knocked me over) were also stunningly good, and among the most adventurous things I’ve read from you. Not that you need to hear that from me or anything, but I did love it.

    I also read Brian Evenson’s “The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell”–he’s another one of my favorite prose (and horror) stylists–and, just last weekend, Maryse Meijer’s “Rag”. I see you blurbed it so I already know it has your seal of approval. What an incredible book. It was so good I’ve spent the past few days slowly rereading every one of the stories in a sort of despair that there aren’t more to read. Which isn’t quite true, of course, because she has other books, and I will definitely be reading all of them, but the specific world of this collection feels so rich and hard to leave behind.

    School has been low-key so far but stressful now that things are picking up; I like living in the city, though, and have recently been enjoying some of the New York Film Festival screenings, which have helped to take my mind off things. How are you? How’s the film in progress? Or just things in general? I hope my wishes at the top of this comment prove true. All my love.

  11. h now j

    Hi, Dennis! I missed the posts here for a few days. I bookmarked them, though. I’ve been infinitely commenting on students’ papers. I should learn how to comment speedily (yet helpfully) from you. Anyhow, I will catch up on what I missed here. Thanks to a holiday, until the night of this coming Tuesday, I don’t have to teach, so I will mostly stay in and do my own things. There’s really a lot to do, but I try to stay calm and concentrate. By the way, I will be in LA from Nov 11 (evening) to 15 (morning). The UCLA area are too expensive, so I had to shorten my stay. Still, I’m going to visit the Huntington Garden. It’s far from UCLA, but I will use one full day to visit it. And some local bookstores and the beach. That’s all aside from a conference presentation. Well, I’m rambling. Still tired after teaching too much. I wanted to say happy weekend to you and thank you for the posts. Otherwise, I will hide myself during these precious, no-teaching days. See you after that. Wish me luck with being fruitful in my projects and tasks! I feel very foggy after getting Covid (at least two times), so I hope you understand my meandering. I just wanted to say hello and smile to you :))

  12. Stephen

    My favorite Shirley Jackson novel is The Sundial. It grows more horrifying – and funnier – every time I read it.

  13. Sam Alviani

    Question about your entry that includes an interview of Shirley—was that your story, or someone else’s? Would love to excerpt it if I can track down the author.

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