The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
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|The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Chris Bradshaw|
|Summary: America's queen of the creepy short story describes one lottery that you really wouldn't want to win.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: October 2009|
|Publisher: Penguin Classics|
Even though it was written over sixty years ago, The Lottery, coming in at fewer than 3,500 words still has the power to shock. When it first appeared in the The New Yorker in 1948 it caused many outraged readers to cancel their subscriptions such was the devastating nature of the story. Time may have lessened sensibilities over the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first but The Lottery, like many of the other stories in this timely reissue, still packs a mighty punch.
The Lottery centres on a small isolated farming town where once a year the villagers take part in a mysterious lottery. The sight of children hoarding stones and families arguing amongst themselves give a general sense of unease and hint at the air of unpleasantness that is overwhelming the village. It's an air that when finally revealed on the last page is amply and shockingly justified. The story is creepy, uncomfortable, and raised a shudder for this first time reader.
The general air of malaise isn't isolated to The Lottery. The other twenty four stories in this collection focus on alienation, disappointment and a general sense of cruelty. Whether it's the devilish child in Charles, the ungrateful tramp in Come Dance With Me in Ireland or the pitiless book buyer in Seven Types Of Ambuigity there is always a hint of unpleasantness beneath an innocent looking façade. Jackson hints at the dark heart lurking behind the innocence represented by mom, flag, apple pie and picket fences.
In Elizabeth, The Daemon Lover and The Lottery, Jackson has created three mini-masterpieces. There's nothing flashy about Jackson's prose, she just quietly and understatedly leads the reader to some chilling destinations. The Lottery is a staple on the US school curriculum and still provokes a seemingly endless stream of criticism and interpretation. It's good to see it get a fresh airing over here.
Jackson was just forty eight when she died in 1965 but her legacy lives on in the likes of Stephen King and Donna Tartt. If you're still in need of a chill after the Halloween frightfest then these short stories are the perfect way to get that creepy fix.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.
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