"As we approach the centenary of [Jackson's] 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 mothers paper's at the Library of Congress, selecting only the very best for inclusion"--Dust jacket flap.
It is being published 50 years after her death, so, of course, she had no say in what was included.
There is some very good stuff in here. A little bit of it is creepy, a little bit is funny, much of it is just day-to-day living. There is some haunting – I especially appreciated “Good Old House.” I enjoyed her anthropomorphic kitchen utensils.
Given that, there is material I think should have been left out. I feel like I've snooped in her private file cabinet and read some of the things that she kept as “maybe I can work on this later.”
Quite a bit of the material is dated, and especially the male/female roles she took as normal. Not unsurprising for her time and age, but some of it doesn't age well. There was also quite a bit about her personal family, her seeming discontent with her self-assigned role in life. I knew nothing of her as an author, and now that I have looked into her life just a bit because of reading this book, some of the writing is more poignant and what is funny on the surface has a deeper sorrow underneath.
The stick figure drawings are wonderful.
For fans of Shirley Jackson, I do recommend this collection of writings, but I think perhaps more judicious editing would have made it better.
I was given an advance reader's copy of this book for review.
[Note: this review will be marked as LTER, but I never received that copy and found the book elsewhere.]
The majority of these stories have never been published. I’m finding that I prefer the Library of America collection of novels and stories, but I’ve still enjoyed all of these so far. Almost every one of these stories features Jackson’s particular brand of uncanniness, creating a strong sense of unease in the reader. I’ve thought many times that reading Shirley Jackson is like watching The Twilight Zone. Things often aren’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on why or how. It’s disquieting and unsettling, and creates a perfect mood of uneasiness.
I highly recommend this compilation, especially if you are already a Shirley Jackson fan. If you are not a fan of her work, you probably will be after spending a few days with Let Me Tell You.