Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories of Shirley Jackson

Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories of Shirley Jackson

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by Shirley Jackson, Ste, Stewart, Laurence J. Hyman
     
 

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Beloved in her own time for her short story “The Lottery” and her novel The Haunting of Hill House—classics ranking with the work of Edgar Allan Poe—Shirley Jackson blazed a path for contemporary writers with her explorations of evil, madness, and cruelty. Soon after her untimely death in 1965, Jackson’s children discovered aSee more details below

Overview

Beloved in her own time for her short story “The Lottery” and her novel The Haunting of Hill House—classics ranking with the work of Edgar Allan Poe—Shirley Jackson blazed a path for contemporary writers with her explorations of evil, madness, and cruelty. Soon after her untimely death in 1965, Jackson’s children discovered a treasure trove of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, many of which are brought together in this remarkable collection. Here are tales of torment, psychological aberration, and the macabre, as well as those that display her lighter touch with humorous scenes of domestic life. Reflecting the range and complexity of Jackson’s talent, Just an Ordinary Day reaffirms her enduring influence and celebrates her singular voice, rich with magic and resonance.
 
Praise for Just an Ordinary Day
 
“Jackson at her best: plumbing the extraordinary from the depths of mid-twentieth-century common. [Just an Ordinary Day] is a gift to a new generation.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
Praise for Shirley Jackson
 
“[Jackson’s] work exerts an enduring spell.”—Joyce Carol Oates
 
“Shirley Jackson’s stories are among the most terrifying ever written.”—Donna Tartt
 
“An amazing writer . . . If you haven’t read [her] you have missed out on something marvelous.”—Neil Gaiman
 
“Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.”—Dorothy Parker
 
“An author who not only writes beautifully but who knows what there is, in this world, to be scared of.”—Francine Prose
 
“The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable.”—A. M. Homes
 
“Jackson enjoyed notoriety and commercial success within her lifetime, and yet it still hardly seems like enough for a writer so singular. When I meet readers and other writers of my generation, I find that mentioning her is like uttering a holy name.”—Victor LaValle

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Just an Ordinary Day
 
“Jackson at her best: plumbing the extraordinary from the depths of mid-twentieth-century common. [Just an Ordinary Day] is a gift to a new generation.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
Praise for Shirley Jackson
 
“[Jackson’s] work exerts an enduring spell.”—Joyce Carol Oates
 
“Shirley Jackson’s stories are among the most terrifying ever written.”—Donna Tartt
 
“An amazing writer . . . If you haven’t read [her] you have missed out on something marvelous.”—Neil Gaiman
 
“Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.”—Dorothy Parker
 
“An author who not only writes beautifully but who knows what there is, in this world, to be scared of.”—Francine Prose
 
“The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable.”—A. M. Homes
 
“Jackson enjoyed notoriety and commercial success within her lifetime, and yet it still hardly seems like enough for a writer so singular. When I meet readers and other writers of my generation, I find that mentioning her is like uttering a holy name.”—Victor LaValle
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the hilarious first story in this treat of a collection, in which a college girl tricks the devil (horns, hoofs and all) into selling her his soul, we know we are in Jackson territory-the Jackson of the classic short story "The Lottery'' and the novel The Haunting of Hill House. For Jackson devotees, as well as first-time readers, this is a feast: more than half of the 54 short stories collected here have never been published before. The circumstances that inspired the volume are appropriately bizarre. According to Jackson's children, "a carton of cobwebbed files discovered in a Vermont barn" arrived in the mail one day without notice; along with the original manuscript of her novel, the box contained six unpublished stories. Other pieces, culled from family collections, and from archives and papers at the San Francisco Public Library and the Library of Congress, appeared in print only once, in various magazines. The stories are diverse: there are tales that pillory smug, self-satisfied, small-town ladies; chilling and murderous chronicles of marriage; witty romantic comedies; and tales that reveal an eerie juxtaposition of good and evil. The devil, who can't seem to get an even break, makes several appearances. Each of Jackson's ghost stories-often centered around a child, missing or dead-is beautifully anchored in and thoroughly shaped by a particular point of view. A few pieces that qualify as humorous takes on the predicaments of modern life add a relaxed, biographical element to a virtuoso collection. (Dec.) FYI: Jackson, who died in 1965 at age 48, is poised for a literary revival: the BBC is releasing a biography in the fall, and a new film version of The Haunting of Hill House is currently in production.
Library Journal
This collection by Jackson (1919-1965), known to friends as the "Virginia Werewolf of Seance Fiction" for works like The Haunting of Hill House (1959), includes unpublished and uncollected pieces.
Kirkus Reviews
A patchwork collection of 54 (mostly brief) stories, all previously uncollected and/or unpublished, by the late (191965) author of The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, and other classics of contemporary supernatural fiction.

Jackson's talent was to find the ghoulish and disturbing just beneath the surface of the commonplace (her work has significantly influenced Stephen King's). Accordingly, a majority of these stories portray marital or domestic crises, cunningly raised to high levels of tension and, very often, terror. Though Lucifer himself shows up in a few (most memorably, "The Smoking Room," where he's outwitted by a calculating coed), Jackson's evil figures are, much more often, enigmatic men who prey on or otherwise disappoint the women who adore them ("The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith"), children who intuit odd occurrences and presences their elders cannot perceive ("Summer Afternoon"), and nice old ladies whose charming eccentricities mask their darker purposes ("The Possibility of Evil"). There's rather a lot of inchoate work here (such as a weak piece of romantic medievalism, "Lord of the Castle"), and many of the bland titles were obviously only preliminary. Of the unpublished stories, best are such Saki-like models of compact menace as "The Mouse," "What a Thought," and "Mrs. Anderson"—as well as two of Jackson's most amusing pictures of embattled motherhood ("Arch-Criminal" and "Alone in a Den of Cubs"). The uncollected pieces, many of them first published in popular magazines, are nevertheless generally much stronger. They feature several ingenious premises ("The Wishing Dime," "Journey with a Lady," and especially "The Omen," a complex chiller beautifully developed from its fairy-tale-like beginning), vividly realistic characterizations ("Mrs. Melville Makes a Purchase"), and at least one indisputable classic: "One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts," in which Jackson records with virtuosic understatement the cruel and unusual avocation shared by a devoted suburban couple.

Even at a bit below the level of her best work, it's nice to have Jackson back again.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553378337
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/1997
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
574,692
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.88(d)

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