"Description of a village lottery. The entire town of about 300 people assembles in the village square where the time-honored ritual is observed. First all the heads of families draw slips of paper out of a box. Bill Hutchinson gets a certain slip after which his entire family draws slips. His wife, Tessie gets one with a black mark on it. The villagers surround her and start throwing stones at her, while she screams, 'It isn't fair.'" —Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" was published in the New Yorker on this day in 1948. Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin goes over some of the responses.
Those who subscribe know that often the Library of America books can land with a clonk. The recent Emerson and Thoreau and Twain volumes were of course good if not thrilling to receive; the Philip K. Dick one of last year was great and surprising, if a bit oddly curated for my tastes. So when the Shirley Jackson collection arrived last week, it was like a party had gone off in the mailbox! A party of words! LADY WORDS EVEN! Now joining an astoundingly slender list of women in the 204-book series, we have, inevitably, heard that Shirley Jackson's just not worthy. 1. You can suck eggs and 2. [...]
Oh, DAPHNE. Daphne. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." THAT'S how you open a novel, guys! Right there. Make it count. What's Manderley? Why aren't you there now? Why are you telling me about it? We have so many questions, and we've barely used our old-timey paper knives to cut open the first few leaves. (Just kidding! This book is from the 1930s, the leaves were already cut for you. Which is good, really, because I don't even like to have to turn my Kindle on, and instead just leave it in sleep-mode all the time, you know?) No, the first chapter of the novel is not [...]
Top row: Dorothy Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, Shirley Jackson, Gael Greene. Bottom row: Patti Smith, Susan Sontag, Tama Janowitz, Kate Christensen.
In 1967, Patti Smith wrote in Just Kids, she was considering a move to New York City. "I had enough money for a one-way ticket. I planned to hit all the bookstores in the city. This seemed ideal work to me." Twenty-seven years before her, in 1940, Shirley Jackson and her soon-to-be husband Stanley Hyman graduated from Syracuse and moved to New York. According to this biography, "For quite some time they had known exactly what they were going to do: move to New York [...]