Tuesday, March 5, 2013
TO-READ l Come Along With Me
Shirley Jackson's legacy has mostly survived through movies (her 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House has spawned numerous cinematic adaptations) and high school English classes ("The Lottery," a short story that first appeared in The New Yorker, has since become a staple of American horror in the vein of Poe and Hawthorne). But few readers today are familiar with her lesser-known works, such as her final novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle, or the short stories and lectures collected here.
Jackson suffered from psychosomatic illnesses until her death, at age 48, of heart failure in her sleep, and that same eerie confluence of psychic disruption and physical danger run through Come Along With Me. She has been called the mother of modern American horror by Stephen King, but both fans and detractors of King's will be quick to point out the blurrier boundary between supernatural and earthly terrors in Jackson's works. Her brave excursions into psychological darkness live precariously on the brink between the other wordly and the everyday, mastering the art of comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable. Although the occult is never far from her character's minds, it is their altogether human actions that cause disaster in her stories. No other author of the mid-20th-century was better able to conjure quiet cruelties and deep unease from the trappings of conventional American life; to read Jackson is to take a brave step away from the literature of the comforted.
-Hope Rehak, Customer. Follow Hope (doesn't that sound nice?) at hoperehak.com and @hoperehak