February 3, 2006

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.

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13 Responses to I’m reading a biography of Shirley Jackson, author of

  1. g8s says:

    Hey, now… Bitterness? Envy? Gall, even? Betcha Shirley (Ms.) Jackson (if you’re nasty) would love to hearing that, as it sounds like the makings of one of her stories.

  2. Alastair says:

    If the excerpt is anything to go by, you also manage to exceed her writing skills quite comfortably.

  3. Hanuman says:

    I remember having to read “The Lottery” in junior high. That story still creeps me out….

  4. David says:

    Well, think of it this way: if you get hooked on amphetamines now, you will have beaten her to the punch by eleven months. You would win!

  5. Uncle Zoloft says:

    … maybe you could reset her story in Charleston interweaveing your troubled youth and get on Oprah’s Book Club …

  6. Adrienne says:

    How strange, I was just talking about that story last night…

  7. tim says:

    I LOVE Shirley Jackson. My sophomore year highschool English report was on her. I loved loved loved loved her. I believe I got a B+. My teacher never ever gave A’s or A-‘s. Of course, I scored an A before I left her class. 🙂

  8. David says:

    You on amphetamines would be not just a recipe for a disaster, but an entire cookbook and cable access program.

  9. michael vocino says:

    Hi. I just wanted you to know that I finally got to your little book—Gay Haiku. Great stuff. I giggled at most but with many I laughed outloud and a few I am still thinking about… I found them quite profound! Thanks for giving me a quick but fun and even challenging read. m.

    p.s. I love Shirley Jackson, too.

  10. Mush says:

    You should totally do a little speed. You know, just every now and then, like when your apartment needs to be cleaned. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY CLEANED.

  11. Gurustu says:

    I remember they used to show that movie every year in school. I think they were trying to tell us something.

    Have you noticed that her life is about getting stoned, while yours is about getting laid? I think you’re off to a much better start!

  12. Molly says:

    Shirley Jackson went to my high school. It’s not much of a legacy, but it’s something.

  13. Pingback: On Shirley Jackson | The Sheila Variations

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