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Book review: Let Me Tell You

July 6, 2015

Get ready, everyone—the Shirley Jackson revival is about to begin.

In anticipation of Ruth Franklin’s major biography of Jackson coming out in 2016, Franklin introduces this compilation of short stories, essays, reviews, and family humor pieces (most of which have never been published).

If you’ve never read Jackson before, she’s best known for her short story The Lottery.  If you’re already familiar with her, you’ll see her preoccupations running throughout this collection: everyday magic, loneliness, domestic trials, and the fact that some houses are born bad.  Paranoia is a thrilling example of her short story style, and Mrs. Spencer and the Oberons (my favorite piece in the book) reveals her not-so-hidden misanthropy.  Fans of Life Among the Savages can look forward to an entire section of domestic comedy, and the book wraps up with revelations of where Jackson came up with her story ideas and how she used symbols (“garlic”) in her work.

Jackson has been cited as an influence by Stephen King, Kelly Link, and Donna Tartt, among others.  This collection showcases her wide range, from menace to dry wit. 

beth winter


Beth works in the Collection Development department.  She loves short stories, memoirs, documentary films, and cookbooks.  Her favorite things about working at the library are knowing in advance about all the new releases and the easy access to her library holds.