Shirley Jackson

Shirley Hardie Jackson was an American author. She was a popular writer in her time, and her work has received increased attention from literary critics in recent years. She influenced Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.
She is best known for the short story "The Lottery", which reveals a secret, sinister underside to a bucolic American village, and for The Haunting of Hill House, which is widely considered to be one of the best ghost stories ever written. In her critical biography of Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that when "The Lottery" was published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it received a response that "no New Yorker story had ever received". Hundreds of letters poured in that were characterized by, as Jackson put it, "bewilderment, speculation, and old-fashioned abuse". In the July 22, 1948, issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jackson offered the following in response to persistent queries from her readers about her intentions:
Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult.
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • From the renowned author of “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House, a spectacular new volume of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, essays, and other writings.

Features “Family Treasures,” nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story

Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American writers of the last hundred years. Since her death in 1965, her place in the landscape of twentieth-century fiction has grown only more exalted.

As we approach the centenary of her birth comes this astonishing compilation of fifty-six pieces—more than forty of which have never been published before. Two of Jackson’s children co-edited this volume, culling through the vast archives of their mother’s papers at the Library of Congress, selecting only the very best for inclusion.

Let Me Tell You brings together the deliciously eerie short stories Jackson is best known for, along with frank, inspiring lectures on writing; comic essays about her large, boisterous family; and whimsical drawings. Jackson’s landscape here is most frequently domestic: dinner parties and bridge, household budgets and homeward-bound commutes, children’s games and neighborly gossip. But this familiar setting is also her most subversive: She wields humor, terror, and the uncanny to explore the real challenges of marriage, parenting, and community—the pressure of social norms, the veins of distrust in love, the constant lack of time and space.

For the first time, this collection showcases Shirley Jackson’s radically different modes of writing side by side. Together they show her to be a magnificent storyteller, a sharp, sly humorist, and a powerful feminist.

This volume includes a Foreword by the celebrated literary critic and Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin.

Praise for Let Me Tell You

“Stunning.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Let us now—at last—celebrate dangerous women writers: how cheering to see justice done with [this collection of] Shirley Jackson’s heretofore unpublished works—uniquely unsettling stories and ruthlessly barbed essays on domestic life.”—Vanity Fair

“Feels like an uncanny dollhouse: Everything perfectly rendered, but something deliciously not quite right.”—NPR

“There are . . . times in reading [Jackson’s] accounts of desperate women in their thirties slowly going crazy that she seems an American Jean Rhys, other times when she rivals even Flannery O’Connor in her cool depictions of inhumanity and insidious cruelty, and still others when she matches Philip K. Dick at his most hallucinatory. At her best, though, she’s just incomparable.”—The Washington Post

“Offers insights into the vagaries of [Jackson’s] mind, which was ruminant and generous, accommodating such diverse figures as Dr. Seuss and Samuel Richardson.”—The New York Times Book Review

“The best pieces clutch your throat, gently at first, and then with growing strength. . . . The whole collection has a timelessness.”—The Boston Globe

“[Jackson’s] writing, both fiction and nonfiction, has such enduring power—she brings out the darkness in life, the poltergeists shut into everyone’s basement, and offers them up, bringing wit and even joy to the examination.”—USA Today

“The closest we can get to sitting down and having a conversation with . . . one of the most original voices of her generation.”—The Huffington Post


From the Hardcover edition.
Acclaimed in her own time for her short story “The Lottery” and her novel The Haunting of Hill House—classics ranking with the work of Edgar Allan Poe—Shirley Jackson blazed a path for contemporary writers with her explorations of evil, madness, and cruelty. Soon after her untimely death in 1965, Jackson’s children discovered a treasure trove of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, many of which are brought together in this remarkable collection. Here are tales of torment, psychological aberration, and the macabre, as well as those that display her lighter touch with humorous scenes of domestic life. Reflecting the range and complexity of Jackson’s talent, Just an Ordinary Day reaffirms her enduring influence and celebrates her singular voice, rich with magic and resonance.
 
Praise for Just an Ordinary Day
 
“Jackson at her best: plumbing the extraordinary from the depths of mid-twentieth-century common. [Just an Ordinary Day] is a gift to a new generation.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
Praise for Shirley Jackson
 
“[Jackson’s] work exerts an enduring spell.”—Joyce Carol Oates
 
“Shirley Jackson’s stories are among the most terrifying ever written.”—Donna Tartt
 
“An amazing writer . . . If you haven’t read [Jackson] you have missed out on something marvelous.”—Neil Gaiman
 
“Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.”—Dorothy Parker
 
“An author who not only writes beautifully but who knows what there is, in this world, to be scared of.”—Francine Prose
 
“The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable.”—A. M. Homes
 
“Jackson enjoyed notoriety and commercial success within her lifetime, and yet it still hardly seems like enough for a writer so singular. When I meet readers and other writers of my generation, I find that mentioning her is like uttering a holy name.”—Victor LaValle


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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