The Blessed Oblivion of Well-Preserved Ignorance

In this Newsweek review of LOA books (via Books Inq) the writer derides LOA for producing a complete volume of Shirley Jackson's writing, "A writer mostly famous for one short story, "The Lottery." Is LOA about to jump the shark?"

Perhaps to those who don't care to read she is know for that single short story (and rightly known for it); however, the opus of Shirley Jackson extends far beyond that, and she produced one of the finest post-Jamesian meditations on haunting and psychology ever written.  She deserves her own volume as much as any other writer in the series.

It is so easy to deride the work of those for whom we do not care for one reason or another.  And so easy to follow the multitude in the appreciation of a writer who may not deserve the plaudits.  But how difficult it is to think for oneself and to take the time to become truly acquainted with the literary landscape and appreciative not merely of the mountains, but even of the foothills and the plains.  Would that I were merely a barrier island!


  1. A note from a friend who was unable to comment:

    I am flabbergasted over that writer's ignorance. Not only The Haunting of Hill House but We Have Always Lived in the Castle are stunning looks at the human mind and how isolation works on us, as well as what it means to be a human being. Or so it seems to me. Not to mention that her devastatingly funny books about family life offer similar looks at humanity, albeit from the complete other side of the coin. How wonderful that LOA is putting out that volume, which I may have to purchase, and how sad that the article author has never explored Shirley Jackson's writing beyond an assignment from school (or so it would seem).


  2. Dear Julie,

    Sorry for the difficulty posting, but I wanted to share what you had written me with everyone because I couldn't agree more.



  3. I saw that same Newsweek piece and had a couple of thoughts on it. First, I've found that when an author I'm not entirely familiar with gets an LOA volume, I tend to think, "Hmm, maybe this writer should be known for more than just that one story I've read. I'll have to check them out." I also find it amusing to see Newsweek expressing anxiety about the intermingling of highbrow lit and genre fiction, which wasn't a problem for them when they ran multiple "Da Vinci Code" cover stories...


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