Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American authors of the last hundred years and among our greatest writers of the female experience. This extraordinary compilation of personal correspondence has all the hallmarks of Jackson’s beloved fiction, and also features Shirley’s own witty line drawings.
I must stop writing letters and get to writing a novel. If you think of any good scenes for a novel covering about forty pages send them right along. I can use anything I can get.
Written over the course of nearly three decades, from Jackson’s college years to six days before her early death at the age of forty-eight, these letters become the autobiography Shirley Jackson never wrote, full of subversive wit, vivid imagination, and precisely calibrated prose. As well as being a bestselling author, Jackson spent much of her adult life as a mother of four in Vermont, and the landscape here is often the everyday: dream vacations and trips to the dentist; overdue taxes and frayed lines of Christmas lights; new dogs and new babies. But in recounting these events to family, friends, and colleagues, she turns them into remarkable stories: entertaining, revealing, and wise. At the same time, many of these letters provide fresh insight into the genesis and progress of Jackson’s writing over nearly three decades.
The novel is getting sadder. I suppose it’s because of a general melancholy, but a general air of disaster is slowly settling over Hill House. It’s always such a strange feeling–I know something’s going to happen, and those poor people in the book don’t; they just go blithely on their ways.
This intimate collection holds the beguiling prism of Shirley Jackson–writer and teacher, mother and daughter, neighbor and wife–up to the light.