Shirley Jackson Archive

Realism and the Weird in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story We Used to Tell”

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When read together, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s tale reveals the realism peeking behind the frame of Shirley Jackson’s, and Jackson’s short story illuminates the otherworldly horror plaguing the narrator of Perkins Gilman’s.

The Secret Horror of The Haunting of Hill House

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A secret horror isn’t magically eradicated because its spoken aloud. Rather, its implications spread, deepen, further infiltrating our complex web of relationships, our motivations, our dreams. In fact, some horrors can’t be named; the words fail us.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: A Prelude to a Myth

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Shirley Jackson’s novel takes an inverted approach to the feminist retelling of male-centric myths, starting out with relatable (if spooky) characters that eventually transform into the “neighborhood witch” archetype.

An Interview with Victor LaValle

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I learned about Victor LaValle, recent recipient of Ploughshares’s Alice Hoffman Prize, as I read an introduction to Shirley Jackson’s The Sundial, in which he recounts the humor, horror, and humanity he respects in her work.

Enchanted Prose: Lyrical Language as Strength in the Mythic Novel

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Mythopoeia, the making of myth, is primarily considered a genre reserved for writers of high fantasy (Tolkien coined the term). But to restrict mythopoeia to fantasy alone—to think of mythopoeia as a genre rather than a technique—is a disadvantage to realist writers, who then miss out on the advantages

Shirley Jackson, Madeleine L’Engle, and Motherhood

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I read much of Shirley Jackson’s memoir of raising four children, Life Among the Savages (1952), on a weekend when I was caring for three children. For a brief stretch—maybe five pages—we achieved a fragile equilibrium and they were all attached to me as I read.

Throwback Thursday: “The Lottery” and Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson

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Let Me Tell You is a collection of thirty short stories–twenty-two of which never made it into the public sphere–and twenty-six snippets and essays which encompass the body of Shirley Jackson’s work.

Ways of Beginning

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New Year’s Eve has always struck me as sort of a strained holiday. The newness it represents feels invisible to me, no matter the countdowns and music and noisemakers piled on it—a threshold in the air, a line that’s there because we say it is. I’m always so aware

Five Speculative Tales Still Relevant Today (And What They Can Teach Us)

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Seven-Word Summary: Women enslaved by tyrannical dicks with dicks. Excerpt: “Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it really isn’t about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death.

“Death!/ Plop.”: The Instructive Power of Very Bad Art

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In the basement of three small theaters in Massachusetts lives a collection of some of humankind’s worst artistic efforts: the Museum of Bad Art. Everything in the collection is gloriously, earnestly bad (the curators reject anything that seems bad by intention). You can go there. You should. The photograph