I’m reading a biography of Shirley Jackson, author of (among many other things) “The Lottery,” the terrifying story about a small town that annually stones one of its residents to death. In discussing Jackson’s taste in literature, her biographer quotes her as saying that she loved eighteenth-century novels for “the preservation of and insistence on a pattern superimposed precariously on the chaos of human development.”
“I think it is the combination of these two,” Jackson continued, “that forms the background of everything I write–the sense which I feel of a human and not very rational order struggling inadequately to keep in check forces of great destruction, which may be the devil and may be intellectual enlightenment.”
I knew there was a reason I liked her.
Unfortunately, the biography also informs me that Jackson was one year younger than I am now when she published “The Lottery,” so I will never be able to think of her again without a certain amount of bitterness and envy and gall.
On the other hand, she was exactly as old as I am now when she got hooked on amphetamines, so if I can make it to January 12, 2007 without doing the same then I will be able to feel superior to her in at least one arena.