Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Unpublished Stories

I love Shirley Jackson's writing. I prefer the short stories, but her novels are great, too. Just go read Life Among the Savages if you can, to see what I mean. Yeah, The Haunting of Hill House is worth it, too (I especially love the way she blends fairy tale fantasy with horror), but I keep coming back to the short pieces.

So I got this selection of short stories called Just an Ordinary Day from the library, partly because I hadn't read "One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts" in a while. I was surprised to learn that the bulk of the collection was unpublished work, selected by her children and released in 1995--thirty years after she died.

I couldn't help thinking of Kafka, telling his buddy to burn all his unpublished work if he died. Not in a bad way, of course. Kafka's buddy Max Brod didn't burn the stuff, and so we've got a lot of stories we otherwise wouldn't have had (and apparently there are more to come, maybe). Some writers are against this sort of thing, some probably hope it works out, since the income can benefit loved ones. I'm not sure where I stand, not having much published.

Anyway, I bring all that up because I read the previously-unpublished "The Story We Used to Tell" from that collection, and it's really great. Rough, though there are no notes indicating what sort of shape the manuscript itself was in, or if Jackson left any notes about it. It's sort of a haunted house story, and I'm glad I read it even if it wasn't published in her lifetime.

I see that a biography came out last year. I might have to get a copy. "Miss Jackson writes not with a pen but a broomstick." Yeah. Sounds interesting.

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