Shirley Jackson (1916-65) was a complicated woman—a hardworking faculty wife and mother of four and a productive writer both energized and enervated by a macabre sensibility that doubtless worsened the poor health that led to a fatal heart attack in her 49th year.
A college graduate, and the spouse of prominent academic Stanley Edgar Hyman, Jackson had profitably immersed herself in what Poe called the literature of the grotesque and arabesque—and seems to have quite enjoyed describing herself as an accredited and devoted practitioner of the dark arts.
And, as if H.P. Lovecraft had had a little of Erma Bombeck or Carl Hiaasen in him (a not unpleasing thought), she also produced charmingly funny accounts (in Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages) of the joys and frustrations of tending to a large, fractious family.
This rigorously selective yet perfectly satisfying gathering of Jackson's best work begins with the complete contents of her seminal 1947 collection The Lottery. Read full book review >