Every day he returns from school and tells his father and mother about a mysterious classmate who gets into serious trouble with his teacher and the other students. If one day he hits his teacher, the next day he whispers an evil word in a little girl’s ear.
Laurie’s parents encourage their son to discuss Charles and his antics in class even as you suspect that they know who Charles really is and that they’re merely hiding from the truth."I saw a witch," he said to his mother after a minute.
I'll be reading many of them, especially her non-macabre horror stories.
Sergio Angelini, George Kelley, John Norris, and Todd Mason have more authoritative reviews of Shirley Jackson's work at their excellent blogs.
The best writers I’ve worked with love to get copyedited—it’s the less best writers, I’ve found, who see copyediting as a provocation, an impertinent questioning of their skill—but that’s not to say that everything a copy editor does is embraced.
“Check your ego at the door,” a former boss warned when she asked me to dust off one of my own copyediting jobs after the author had reviewed it.
I find reading Jackson an endlessly rewarding experience: the merrily subversive family memoirs, the novel Jackson was working on, and which she left unfinished, at the time of her death, fifty years ago this Saturday.
Mostly I find myself returning to the stories, though, particularly those featuring the uneasy, unsettled women Jackson portrayed with equal parts compassion and mercilessness: Mrs.
"There was a big old ugly old bad old witch outside."In The Witch, four-year old Johnny is travelling by train with his mother and little sister. And then, just as he is talking about seeing a witch outside the window, an elderly man with white hair and a pleasant face enters the coach and strikes up a conversation with the boy. They are about families, not necessarily happy families, even though they may seem like they are.
He is looking out of the window, bored and making childish talk, like “We're on a river…This is a river and we're on it,” or “We're on a bridge over a river,” or “There's a cow. Among other things, he tells Johnny about how much he loved his own little sister before he cut her head off and put it inside a cage where a bear ate it up. There is a disconnect between Laurie and Johnny on one hand and their parents on the other. I have never read Shirley Jackson before and therefore I cannot say much except wonder if that is really how she thinks families can be, or really are.