“Jackson at her best: plumbing the extraordinary from the depths of mid-twentieth-century common. [Just an Ordinary Day] is a gift to a new generation.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Acclaimed in her own time for her short story “The Lottery” and her novel The Haunting of Hill House—classics ranking with the work of Edgar Allan Poe—Shirley Jackson blazed a path for contemporary writers with her explorations of evil, madness, and cruelty. Soon after her untimely death in 1965, Jackson’s children discovered a treasure trove of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, many of which are brought together in this remarkable collection. Here are tales of torment, psychological aberration, and the macabre, as well as those that display her lighter touch with humorous scenes of domestic life. Reflecting the range and complexity of Jackson’s talent, Just an Ordinary Day reaffirms her enduring influence and celebrates her singular voice, rich with magic and resonance.
Praise for Shirley Jackson
“[Jackson’s] work exerts an enduring spell.”—Joyce Carol Oates
“Shirley Jackson’s stories are among the most terrifying ever written.”—Donna Tartt
“An amazing writer . . . If you haven’t read [Jackson] you have missed out on something marvelous.”—Neil Gaiman
“Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.”—Dorothy Parker
“An author who not only writes beautifully but who knows what there is, in this world, to be scared of.”—Francine Prose
“The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable.”—A. M. Homes
“Jackson enjoyed notoriety and commercial success within her lifetime, and yet it still hardly seems like enough for a writer so singular. When I meet readers and other writers of my generation, I find that mentioning her is like uttering a holy name.”—Victor LaValle
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you were rattled by the screen adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, get ready for this equally unsettling short-story collection from the novel’s author, the late and brilliant Shirley Jackson. Just an Ordinary Day isn’t filled exclusively with the quiet terror that brought Jackson fame in her lifetime. While these previously unpublished stories cover sins from gossip to murder, Jackson also had a droll comic eye for everyday life in mid-’50s suburbia. Her sharp, ironic wit shines through even the most terrifying of these stories.
From the hilarious first story in this treat of a collection, in which a college girl tricks the devil (horns, hoofs and all) into selling her his soul, we know we are in Jackson territory-the Jackson of the classic short story "The Lottery'' and the novel The Haunting of Hill House. For Jackson devotees, as well as first-time readers, this is a feast: more than half of the 54 short stories collected here have never been published before. The circumstances that inspired the volume are appropriately bizarre. According to Jackson's children, "a carton of cobwebbed files discovered in a Vermont barn" arrived in the mail one day without notice; along with the original manuscript of her novel, the box contained six unpublished stories. Other pieces, culled from family collections, and from archives and papers at the San Francisco Public Library and the Library of Congress, appeared in print only once, in various magazines. The stories are diverse: there are tales that pillory smug, self-satisfied, small-town ladies; chilling and murderous chronicles of marriage; witty romantic comedies; and tales that reveal an eerie juxtaposition of good and evil. The devil, who can't seem to get an even break, makes several appearances. Each of Jackson's ghost stories-often centered around a child, missing or dead-is beautifully anchored in and thoroughly shaped by a particular point of view. A few pieces that qualify as humorous takes on the predicaments of modern life add a relaxed, biographical element to a virtuoso collection. FYI: Jackson, who died in 1965 at age 48, is poised for a literary revival: the BBC is releasing a biography in the fall, and a new film version of The Haunting of Hill House is currently in production.