Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"The Intoxicated" by Shirley Jackson 1949

Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

She is best known for her dystopian short story, "The Lottery" (1948), which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown America. In her critical biography of Shirley Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that when Shirley Jackson's story "The Lottery" was published in the June 28, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it received a response that "no New Yorker story had ever received." Hundreds of letters poured in that were characterized by, as Jackson put it, "bewilderment, speculation and old-fashioned abuse." -Goodreads 

Most people, including me up until today, have never read more of Shirley Jackson's work than her ultra-famous short story, "The Lottery".   (I admit I love the old pulp art covers for classic books, before they became classics, the one for the  collection where "The Intoxicated" first appears is a great one).  Anyway,  I have now read a second story by Jackson, "The Intoxicated" and it was very delightful.  It is set an a party, a man knows he is a bit drunk so he leaves the party and goes into the kitchen.  The party is pure American post War suburbia.  He meets the daughter of the family, seventeen, in the kitchen.  They start a conversation which takes a startling turn.  The girl begins to give a vivid account of the destruction of civilization, we wonder from what dark recesses of American society this comes from.  

The style is almost like a parable in its prose style. I will read more of her stories, I hope.

If you Google it you can find this story online or read it in the sample edition of the Kindle edition of  The Lottery and Other Stories.  

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