Honestly,I have no idea how to review collections of short stories,but I’ll try to give it a go! (I hope it’s not going to be my worst review ever!)
After reading a good bunch of classics since June 2013,I realized in the midst of this year that I have grossly neglected short stories.I thus went on goodreads and added the best-rated collections to my wish list.After Murakami’s anthology of Birthday Stories and Borges’ Labyrinths,The Lottery and Other Stories is the third collection I’ve delved into.
Let me beforehand say that The Lottery is not the only highlight in this collection.In fact it is not any better than some other superbly written,but lesser-known,gems like The Flower Garden,The Daemon Lover or The Villager.
What I particularly liked with Jackson’s writing is that the ending is recurrently elusive.After writing with engaging vividness for the most part of the story,she is always vague in the conclusive stages,purposely avoiding to give us something definite that would satisfy our reading curiosity.Weirdly this technique sees that we are reading not for the ending,but for the gripping narration.A detached ending besides is also a requisite for many great short-storytellers; if you read Alice Munro’s stories,for example,you’ll agree that the endings have little coherence with the main plot,although highly symbolical.
Moreover I wanted to point out that the literary categorization of Shirley Jackson’s writing is highly misleading.She is erroneously portrayed as someone who reveled in the horror genre,but I think ‘horror’ is too strong a word; the stories were all thematically very dark and gloomy and sometimes disturbing,but none contained morbid allusions and details.To put it in another way,Jackson’s writing is peculiarly delicate yet very dark and clear; she lets you make your own deduction and shiver at the thought of it.Her humor was also very subtle.I am sure that,although fundamentally disturbing,Charles and Of Course will surely put a smile on your face.
Most importantly what really struck me with this collection is that the stories felt very real; there was no magic realism – not that there is anything wrong with it – and nothing highly unlikely.Instead the horrors we witness in the book emanate from terrifying holes in people’s everyday lives: a polite pregnant young lady is almost held hostage by her depressive maid; a newcomer is gradually alienated by the other village dwellers; a woman goes through a delirious mental transformation as a result of her tooth aching.
All in all,I think if you’re fond of short stories or aspire to be a short-storyteller,you should pick this collection.I believe that Jackson’s narrative voice totally suits the requirements of such stories and,in that respect,if you want to read some short stories at their most definite forms – ones filled with details,gripping narratives and elusive endings – then you will find your share in this collection.On the other hand,if you’re much used to reading novels,you might not like this book.The endings might frustrate you and sometimes you might feel there is something lacking in some stories.This is why I opine it is a collection best enjoyed when you’ve read some other short stories before and learnt how to appreciate them.