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text 2018-04-24 18:57
Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 182 pages.
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

"'I don't stay after I set out dinner,' Mrs. Dudley went on. 'Not after it begins to get dark. I leave before dark comes.'


'I know,' Eleanor said.


'We live over in the town, six miles away.'


'Yes,' Eleanor said, remembering Hillsdale.


'So there won't be anyone around if you need help.'


'I understand.'


'We couldn't even hear you, in the night.'


'I don't suppose--'


'No one could. No one lives any nearer than the town. No one else will come any nearer than that.'


'I know,' Eleanor said tiredly.


'In the night,' Mrs. Dudley said, and smiled outright. 'In the dark,' she said, and closed the door behind her.


Eleanor almost giggled, thinking of herself calling, 'Oh, Mrs. Dudley, I need your help in the dark,' and then she shivered." (27-28)



Oh, Mrs. Dudley seems like such a wonderful person. She might as well carry around a neon sign that says YOU'RE ALL GOING TO DIE IN THE DARK AND NO ONE WILL HELP YOU HAHAHA.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-11 05:20
Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
For a short novel, this was a bit of a slog. The narrator and everyone surrounding her were just so deeply unpleasant to spend time with, and there's barely any plot to keep things moving.

The Blackwoods had been a prominent, though not particularly well-liked family in the small New England town where the story is set. Several years ago, most of the family was killed via arsenic-laced sugar they had sprinkled on their fruit at dessert. The only survivors were Constance, the sweet-natured older daughter who never took sugar on her fruit, Uncle Julian, who only ingested very little and was incapacitated for life as a result, and Mary Katherine (or Merricat), the younger daughter, who had been sent to bed without dinner that night.

Constance was assumed to be the culprit, but she was acquitted after a lengthy trial. Since then, the sisters and Uncle Julian have remained barricaded in their isolated mansion, the object of the townfolk's scorn and derision.

The story is narrated by the now 18-year-old Merricat, who is CLEARLY the real murderer. This was obvious from the first paragraph, where she confesses to wishing she was a werewolf and having an affinity for poisonous mushrooms. She is an unpleasant, petulant, strange young woman who obsesses over the charms she has put on the property to keep everyone out. She ruminates about how cruel her family was to send her to bed without dinner that night, and has no remorse at all for her multiple murders.

Meanwhile, Constance spends much of her time trying to avoid goading Merricat in any way - coming across as alternatively devoted and terrified - and Uncle Julian is a doddering old man with an exceedingly tenuous grasp of reality. The book wallows in the day-to-day life of these three unlikeable characters until a visitor appears and throws everything into disarray. Cousin Charles is a slimeball who has designs on marrying Constance as a way of accessing the family fortune. Merricat does not appreciate this, and crossing Merricat is a very bad idea.

I don't know. I have never much liked gothic fiction - it makes me feel claustrophobic and misanthropic. The characters feel like exaggerated malformations, and reading these books feels unpleasantly like gawking at a freakshow. I wasn't charmed by Merricat's quirks, as I think the book wanted me to be? And I never once thought anyone but she murdered the family, so the big reveal late in the book was completely anticlimactic.

Still, there was something... memorable about this story. The creepy secluded mansion felt very real, and the sneering townspeople were, oddly, some of the few characters that actually rang true to me. I read that Shirley Jackson based this milieu on the provincial, anti-intellectual town where she lived and felt like a pariah, so perhaps that is why these are the only elements that felt really authentic to me. But there is an emotional truth buried deep there, under all the tedious gothic trappings, and when it showed through - it gleamed.
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review 2018-04-01 13:58
Your Neighbours Are Not Always Nice...
The Road Through the Wall - Shirley Jackson

Neighbours as we know it can be friendly or not. But in Shirley Jackson's The Road Through the Wall, neighbours as we know it is not what it seems to be. I had quite a number of days to read her first book, which turns out for me quite conflicted whether I like it or I don't. Never the less, I do enjoy her writings and even though there is much to talk about of its flaws, this is still a good read for me.

In Pepper Street, this neighbourhood seems 'perfect'. Neighbours greet each other, they are formal in their own way of being nice and courteous and they have their days of sharing a common hobby together like sewing. But within each household lies another reality - shallow thinkers, bullies, selfish actions and egoistical show offs. The children have secrets among one another, so are the parents. Everyone harbours lies that on the outside, they are superficial. Only one goodness remains - Caroline Desmond, a three year old little girl hardly spoken, hardly knew what is going on in this neighbourhod. There is a wall that divides one street to the next but when the bricks starts to crumble and a tragedy strikes, every thing else is an open secret and what was once consider a nice neighbourhood no longer matters.

Its a simple story really with a lot of characters being introduced in the first chapter itself. I do get a little confuse with one of the other but as I read its easier to know who is who. Still, this is a book that is difficult to rate for me. There are loop holes involve where its never explored at all. Some of these are as to 'why' the actions of certain characters of what they do were never explained completely. I had to make assumptions in order to fulfill them and its easier, as the setting does feel like the late 1940s and early 1950s. The dark part of the book are how each of them backstab each other in ways how superficial they are in front of the neighbours and the children, well, they shown their dark parts too. The writing on the other hand is, as always, pretty much how Shirley Jackson would write - clear, precise and straight to a point. What I enjoy most is how she hook me into the chapter of some of the characters, in a way development explain of who they are and then of course, reach to a point of a little surprise there that feels as if she wanted me to the ride that may keep me guessing. The ending on the other hand, is typical of her and since this is her first book in 1948, I am pretty sure her intentions of writing them is as real as her experience much like how neighbourhoods are in any place in the world.

For me, this is a hard rating to give. I like it but not that much to a point I love it. Its good writing, just not the story itself. Where else there can be much to explore here, I wonder what motivates her to write this story as her first book. I won't say it is bad or any thing but as conflicted as I am in giving a good rating, the best I can think of is a 3.5. I won't say I will recommend this but this story is much like a cautionary tale of what neighbours are (and even can be as an example for today) behind closed doors.


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review 2018-03-28 22:48
Review: Victor LaValle's Destroyer
The Sundial - Shirley Jackson,Victor LaV... The Sundial - Shirley Jackson,Victor LaValle

I don't seen the omnibus edition cataloged here, so be warned that this review covers the six issue run, not just issue #1.


I don't think there is anything not good about this. The art is great, the characters are compelling. The introductory essay is a thing of beauty. I loved the novella LaValle had on last year's Hugo ballot and I love this even more.


This is Frankenstein revisited with an eye towards modern times and inescapable pasts. The protagonist inspired more by Shelley than V. Frankenstein, but entirely her own character with her own driving desire. Grief turned inside out and revenge inevitable, every page a masterpiece. 


This is just great.

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review 2018-03-20 08:36
Short Stories of the Normal In An Extraordinary Way.
The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson

Before, I did mention I enjoyed reading short stories. There aren't many books with short stories today and for a long time, I heard about The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, which is one of the reasons why I had been looking high and low for this collection. There are 24 short stories altogether and to my amazement, I really enjoyed reading all of them.


The Lottery and Other Stories is divided into 5 parts and to its own theme. Here's a short summary for each of these stories:-


The Intoxicated - When a drunk meets the daughter of the host of the party. The Daemon Lover - A girl looking for her future husband on her wedding day. Like Mother Used to Make - A man cooks dinner for his guest only to be thrown out of his house. Trial By Combat - A woman's apartment been robbed by another tenant. The Villager - A woman pretend to be a buyer of things. My Life With R.H. Macy - A man works in Macys. The Witch - A man tells a story of a scary witch to a child in gruesome details. The Renegade - When an owner's dog kills a farmers chicken. After You, My Dear Alphonse - A game played between two children. Charles - A boy shares his school days with his parents about a naughty student. Afternoon in Linen - A grandmother proud of his grand daughter of a poem she wrote. Flower Garden - A wife who fell in love with a cottage meets the new owner that the neighbors do not want to be friends with. Dorothy and My Grandmother and The Sailors- A trip to a town only to avoid sailors. Colloquy - A patient shares her problems with a doctor. Elizabeth - A day of a literary agent. A Fine Old Firm - A meeting of new neighbors. The Dummy - One night show of a ventriloquist. Seven Types of Ambiguity - A couple going into a bookstore to buy books. Come Dance With Me In Ireland - When three women shown kindness to an Irish old man. Of Course - Greeting a new neighbor. Pillars of Salt An experience trip to New York to remember by a couple. Men With Their Big Shoes - When an expected married wife gets a different view about husbands from a caretaker. The Tooth - When a married woman goes on a trip to New York to extract a tooth with devastating change. The Lottery - A lottery that is held with unexpected results.


There is a small poem as a companion to The Daemon Loverwhich can be read at the end of the book. This is my first time reading a Shirley Jackson book without any expectations. I never thought I would be amazed by her writing, let alone magnetize by her way of story telling. There is some thing about her writings that really makes an interesting read. These stories, some doesn't have an ending. Its like a pick out of the blue chapter from some where. Its plot isn't interesting but by way of reading, its something else. I followed to each of their own and to each of them, they are all good (for me any way). Usually I won't enjoy a short story if it lingers in the end but this is an exception for me because, its just the way she writes that I like about. I had invested in her other books (bought almost all of them I think) and I can't wait to read them all. The Lottery and Other Stories is a book picking up because of its writing but yes, it may not be anyone's cup of tea but still, I would highly recommend it for its weirdness, twist and unexpected spin of tales of the normal that makes it quite extraordinary.

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