The Lottery and Other Stories

Title: The Lottery and Other Stories

Writer: Shirley Jackson

Publishing House: Penguin Modern Classics

Date of Publication: October 2009 

Rating: 5 stars

”The only town lights were the street lights, the lights in the all-night lunchstand across the street, and the one remaining counter lamp in the bus station where the girl sat in the ticket office with her hat and coat on, only waiting for the New York bus to leave before she went home to bed.”

In The Daemon Lover, a woman desperately searches for her fiance only to discover that the entire city has actually seen him getting away from her. In Like Mother Used to Make, the roles are reversed as two strange guests cause a young man to abandon his home. Gladly. In The Witch – one of the most terrifying stories by Jackson- a creepy passenger confesses his crime to a young boy and his mother. Racism and cruelty reign in Flower Garden, as a young mother’s decision to hire a black man to work in her garden brands her as an ”abomination” and ostracize her because of a frustrated housewife’s jealousy. Housewives in the suburbs. The worst evil that might befall you.

Elizabeth is a superb story of a fierce, ferocious and confident woman that knows what she wants. What she doesn’t know is her own heart. In The Dummy, two elderly gossipers get a taste of their own medicine as they book a table in a restaurant to spy on people and get laughed at by a talented ventriloquist. In Pillar of Salt, a classic Jackson story, a young woman is ultimately defeated by the beast that answers to the name ‘New York’, and in The Lottery unspeakable horror takes centre stage.

Many refer to New York and its suburbs as the ”beasts” in Shirley Jackson’s stories. Nonsense. Our cities are the results of our own actions. We are the true beasts. Shirley Jackson delves into the human heart and soul with outstanding clarity and illustrates every single trait that makes us what we are.

Monsters hiding in the shadows.

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