Sunday, September 4, 2011
Review - Life Among the Savages
The Back Story ~ I get all goose bumps and wax nostalgic for fun family fare like Please Don’t East the Daisies, Yours Mine and Ours, With Six You Get Egg Roll and the original Cheaper by the Dozen. Life Among the Savages which I found at my usual book sale haunt, the Mission Valley Library for only $1, is right up that alley.
Book Description~ Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Our house is old, noisy and full. When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books . . .
So starts Life Among the Savages published in 1953 by Shirley Jackson. I’m sure she would tell you that it takes a good sense of humor to make it through life in the ‘burbs with a husband, four kids, a rambling house, assorted cats and numerous misadventures. A few ciggies and a martini wouldn’t hurt either; it’s the 50s after all.
Life is good; indeed it’s wonderful at the Jackson/Hyman household. Creativity is unleashed in leaps and bounds. It’s like taking a flying leap off Niagara Falls or river rafting down the Colorado River; you just can’t keep a good kid down. Witness the story of “Charles” or my personal favorite the second Mrs. Ellenoy and her seven daughters all named Martha. The bat that got into the house is another gasp out loud moment as is Ms. Jackson’s account on being in the hospital for the birth of her fourth child. Only Ms. Jackson could quote Shakespeare in the delivery room or chart her progress by the newspaper her husband is reading. As Kate Gosselin would say, It’s a crazy life but it’s our life!
My Take ~ A word of caution: Sections of this may book may cause uncontrollable and/or hysterical laughter. Even I couldn’t tell at times if I was laughing or crying. So be aware of your surroundings or someone may ask…Are you all right dear?
Yes I loved this book; I unabashedly loved it! Shirley Jackson is better known for her chilling tales of the macabre (The Lottery, Haunting of Hill House) but on this outing she takes us on a tour of domestic chaos not unlike an E-ticket ride at Bizarro Disneyland.
The Author ~ Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in 1916 and spent her childhood on the west coast. While still in high school, her family made their way east where eventually Ms. Jackson attended the University of Rochester and graduated from Syracuse University in 1940. That same year she married fellow student and eventual literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman.
In between raising her four children Ms. Jackson gained popularity as a writer of novels and articles in various popular magazines. She is best known for The Lottery (1948) which suggests a secret, sinister underside to bucolic small-town America not unlike North Bennington, Vermont where she lived.
The Shirley Jackson Awards were established in 2007. They are in recognition of her legacy in writing, and are awarded for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.
Shirley Jackson on Writing ~ It’s great fun and I love it. For one thing, it’s the only way I can get to sit down … It’s so deeply satisfying—like having a winning hand at poker.