Life Among the Savages

( 2 )

Overview

In a hilariously charming domestic memoir, America’s celebrated master of terror turns to a different kind of fright: raising children

In her celebrated fiction, Shirley Jackson explored the darkness lurking beneath the surface of small-town America. But in Life Among the Savages, she takes on the lighter side of small-town life. In this witty and warm memoir of her family’s life in rural Vermont, she delightfully exposes a domestic side in cheerful contrast to her quietly ...

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Life Among the Savages

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Overview

In a hilariously charming domestic memoir, America’s celebrated master of terror turns to a different kind of fright: raising children

In her celebrated fiction, Shirley Jackson explored the darkness lurking beneath the surface of small-town America. But in Life Among the Savages, she takes on the lighter side of small-town life. In this witty and warm memoir of her family’s life in rural Vermont, she delightfully exposes a domestic side in cheerful contrast to her quietly terrifying fiction. With a novelist’s gift for character, an unfailing maternal instinct, and her signature humor, Jackson turns everyday family experiences into brilliant adventures.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Read today, [Shirley Jackson’s] pieces feel surprisingly modern—mainly because Jackson refuses to sentimentalize or idealize motherhood…. [Jackson’s] household stories take advantage of the same techniques she developed as a fiction writer: the gradual buildup of carefully chosen detail, the ironic understatement, the repetition of key phrases and the unerring instinct for just where to begin and end a story.”
-Ruth Franklin, New York Times Book Review

"Charming…you’ll see every parenting stance you’ve ever adopted, every parent-story trope you’ve ever told or heard, expressed more perfectly than you ever could have…Reading Shirley Jackson, one of the great memoirists of family life, makes sharp those feelings once more—while reminding us that, yes, thank god and curse time, we too will one day look back on them across a gulf of years.”
-Dan Kois, Slate
 
"Many who profess an admiration for Shirley Jackson, often described as a 'writer's writer' do not usually include her thinly veiled memoirs of motherhood. But it is precisely these hilariously eviscerating, keenly observed, and genersou books that I and many other writers who happen to be mothers, adore.
-Ayelet Waldman
 
"As warm as it is hilarious and believable...Never has the state of domestic chaos been so perfectly illuminated."
–New York Times Book Review

"When it comes to just sheer honest, wry, frustrated, finding-ways-to-appreciate-it writing about family life, we all sit at Shirley Jackson’s feet"
-New York Times Motherlode
 
"Jackson artfully loves and portrays her children. She writes of their fast growth into formidable personalities with dismayed narration and lovely direct quotes, all charmingly subjective. Her view of their sayings and doings is certainly sophisticated but far from cynical or objective."
Saturday Review
 
"A housewife-mother’s frustrations are transformed by a deft twist of the wrist into, not a grim account of disintegration and madness, still less the poisoning of her family, but light-hearted comedy."
–Joyce Carol Oates
 
"Jackson isn’t all eerie uncertainties and lonely housewives. Those who know her work only from 'The Lottery' or Hill House may be surprised to discover that she could also be very funny...Jackson’s two lighthearted memoirs, are filled with droll observations and amusing mishaps."
–William Brennan, Slate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143128045
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/5/2015
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 60,673
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Shirley Jackson (1919–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote many stories as well as six novels and two works of nonfiction.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2001

    Don't Miss This One

    It took a mistress of the macabre like Shirley ('The Lottery') Jackson to turn out the most consistently funny and entertaining book I've ever read about life with small children. When I introduced it to my reading circle, they loved it too. Jackson is such a skilled writer that we can't find her reaching for effects: with one or two exceptions there is no patented twinkle in each chapter, no schmalz, none of that Erma Bombeck look-what-a-martyr-I-am stuff. What she DOES do is look at things from a child's point of view, which occasionally has its dangers--like the time her daughter sent the PTA treasurer home with a penny and a scolding. Also, her husband forbids the practice of magic inside the house, even white magic. (The humor is in the telling, trust me.) Although this book dates from the late forties, despite today's throwaway diapers and appliances 'Life Among the Savages' isn't really dated. It is that good.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2000

    Great book, very underrated

    Shirley Jackson has never gotten the credit she deserved for her books. This first of two autobiographical humorous books remains surprisingly relevant and very very funny. I've read and re-read it many times over many years. Great to have it back in print again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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