I'm confident that almost every bibliophile has a favorite author that at the utterance of that author's name a smile warms the face and they begin to glow. For me, that author is Shirley Jackson. I was introduced to Shirley Jackson in my American Lit class when I was a freshman in College. I was fresh out of high school and was free from required reading such as "The Great Gatsby” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Professor Fisher had us read short stories and in that collection of short stories was “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.
What high school Lit did not prepare me for was the power of this short story. I will tell you that it begins in a small American town and the town gathers for a lottery. I will not tell you the prize and certainly not how it ends. I will tell you that this short story traumatized me in such a positive way. It plunged me into the world of philosophical thought and personal debate. I am confident that almost every bibliophile can tell you about the book that changed their life. This short story changed my life in a way that forced me to question every decision with great caution. It made me think about why we as humans have our rituals, the origins of those rituals and why we are, as a society, stubborn to change them despite evolution and demand of modern times.
Shirley Jackson is well known for her stories of horror and fantasy. But what I love Shirley Jackson for is her memoirs about domestic life. Here is a storyteller who wrote one of the most significant horror novels of the 20th century yet she manages to bring me tears of laughter to the topic of domesticity.
The life of a housewife with four children, a husband, a dog and two cats doesn't seem like it could be a lot of fun but Jackson does exactly this. She makes domesticity fun and even throws in a night cap or three. These memoirs, "Raising Demons" and “Life Among Savages” have changed my writing style and how I view my own daily life in a positive way. I get a little depressed due to the hum drum of daily life. Reading these books puts daily life into a humorous perspective and the stories are anecdotes that heal me positive every time. These books are a few of my favorite things.
To hear the 1951 NBC recording of the Lottery click here: NBC "The Lottery: NBC Short Story
To learn more about Shirley Jackson go to: Shirley Jackson