Review | Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I cannot find any patience for those people who believe that you start writing when you sit down at your desk and pick up your pen and finish writing when you put down your pen again; a writer is always writing, seeing everything through a thin mist of words, fitting swift little descriptions to everything he sees, always noticing.

~Memory and Delusion (lecture on the craft of writing)

As an avid fan of Shirley Jackson’s work, I was excited to finally pluck this one off of my bookshelf and get it off of my TBR. If you have never ready any of Jackson’s work I will say that I would not recommend starting with this, I would start with her collection of short stories containing The Lottery.

Having already read a good number of her short stories and novels, this was a wonderful collection of her previously unpublished or uncollected short stories, essays, humor and lectures. Being someone who enjoys the art of writing myself, I especially enjoyed her lectures on the craft of writing. They especially spoke to me when she discussed how she was always composing stories, even while doing every day things.

I’m really happy I was able to explore these stories from her, especially since they were ones I had never read. Anyone who enjoys her work will enjoy this one and be happy to add it to their library.

Happy reading!

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