NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • From the renowned author of “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House, a spectacular volume of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, essays, and other writings.
Features “Family Treasures,” nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story
Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American writers of the last hundred years. Since her death in 1965, her place in the landscape of twentieth-century fiction has grown only more exalted.
As we approach the centenary of her birth comes this astonishing compilation of fifty-six pieces—more than forty of which have never been published before. Two of Jackson’s children co-edited this volume, culling through the vast archives of their mother’s papers at the Library of Congress, selecting only the very best for inclusion.
Let Me Tell You brings together the deliciously eerie short stories Jackson is best known for, along with frank, inspiring lectures on writing; comic essays about her large, boisterous family; and whimsical drawings. Jackson’s landscape here is most frequently domestic: dinner parties and bridge, household budgets and homeward-bound commutes, children’s games and neighborly gossip. But this familiar setting is also her most subversive: She wields humor, terror, and the uncanny to explore the real challenges of marriage, parenting, and community—the pressure of social norms, the veins of distrust in love, the constant lack of time and space.
For the first time, this collection showcases Shirley Jackson’s radically different modes of writing side by side. Together they show her to be a magnificent storyteller, a sharp, sly humorist, and a powerful feminist.
This volume includes a Foreword by the celebrated literary critic and Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin.
Praise for Let Me Tell You
“Stunning.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Let us now—at last—celebrate dangerous women writers: how cheering to see justice done with [this collection of] Shirley Jackson’s heretofore unpublished works—uniquely unsettling stories and ruthlessly barbed essays on domestic life.”—Vanity Fair
“Feels like an uncanny dollhouse: Everything perfectly rendered, but something deliciously not quite right.”—NPR
“There are . . . times in reading [Jackson’s] accounts of desperate women in their thirties slowly going crazy that she seems an American Jean Rhys, other times when she rivals even Flannery O’Connor in her cool depictions of inhumanity and insidious cruelty, and still others when she matches Philip K. Dick at his most hallucinatory. At her best, though, she’s just incomparable.”—The Washington Post
“Offers insights into the vagaries of [Jackson’s] mind, which was ruminant and generous, accommodating such diverse figures as Dr. Seuss and Samuel Richardson.”—The New York Times Book Review
“The best pieces clutch your throat, gently at first, and then with growing strength. . . . The whole collection has a timelessness.”—The Boston Globe
“[Jackson’s] writing, both fiction and nonfiction, has such enduring power—she brings out the darkness in life, the poltergeists shut into everyone’s basement, and offers them up, bringing wit and even joy to the examination.”—USA Today
“The closest we can get to sitting down and having a conversation with . . . one of the most original voices of her generation.”—The Huffington Post
Jackson, an inspiration to writers from Stephen King to Joyce Carol Oates, dared to look on the dark side and imagine the unimaginable, as demonstrated in this volume of her uncollected and unpublished work. The selected fiction and nonfiction ranges from explorations of the supernatural ("The Man in the Woods") to domestic humor ("In Praise of Dinner Table Silence") and observations of separated couples ("Homecoming"); from her earliest efforts ("Sorcerer's Apprentice") to lectures on writing that she gave at the height of her career ("Garlic in Fiction") all thoughtfully organized and edited by two of Jackson's four children. Not every piece equals the artistry of "The Lottery," the controversial 1948 story that became an anthology and textbook staple, nor do all the pieces prove as haunting as The Haunting of Hill House. Yet together they are a multifaceted portrait of the artist as wife, mother, commentator on the comfortable middle class, and pioneer who explored a world of inexplicable, occasionally frightening phenomena. Writing about her kitchen, she describes its feuding forks, preening glasses, and sarcastic eggbeater. Jackson suggests (rather than delves into) that which is unnerving, writing in a smart, sharp, clear voice. Line drawings, quotations, and a foreword by biographer Ruth Franklin enhance this reminder of why Jackson's reputation flourishes 50 years after her death.