But as Franklin’s subtitle, “A Rather Haunted Life,” suggests,

October 8, 2013


The Case for Shirley Jackson

cheap moncler jackets By Ruth Franklin

cheap moncler outlet Illustrated. 607 pp. Liveright Publishing. $35.

Shirley Jackson once wrote that when she went to the hospital to deliver the third of her four children, the admitting clerk asked for her occupation. To her chagrin, she was far moncler jackets outlet online better known (and better compensated) for the women’s magazine essays she wrote about housekeeping and child rearing today they seem like high end Moncler Factory Outlet Erma Bombeck than for her quirky, hard to categorize novels like “The Haunting of Hill House” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” Even in her marriage, it was her cheap moncler jackets wholesale husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, a literary critic and popular teacher at Bennington College, who hogged all the attention, though it was mostly her earnings moncler coats for women that paid for their lifestyle of nonstop boozing and extravagant book buying moncler outlet online store and gift giving. A few of the Bennington students knew who she was, but to most she was just another faculty wife, and a fat and creepy one at that, someone who drank moncler outlet uk too much and whose house stank moncler coats sale of cat pee.

moncler outlet sale moncler outlet ny Jackson’s posthumous reputation is hardly much better: moncler outlet store She is mostly known these days for a single, moncler jackets for women overanthologized short story, “The Lottery.” A few years ago, when the Library of America brought out a collection of her stories and novels, the Newsweek critic Malcolm Jones accused the Library of stooping so low it was about to “jump the shark.” But Jackson has always had a coterie of admirers, including Stephen King, Jonathan Lethem, Joyce Carol Oates, the critics Laura Miller and moncler coats outlet Ruth Franklin, and with this welcome new biography Franklin makes a thoughtful and persuasive case for moncler outlet mall Jackson as a serious and accomplished literary artist not a major one, perhaps, but one worthy of renewed attention. “Her body of work constitutes nothing less than the secret history of American women of her moncler jackets cheap era,” Franklin writes, placing at the center of Jackson’s life the cheap moncler coats for women ever pressing conflict between being an artist and being a wife and mother. That Jackson struggled with this dilemma is certainly true, and the chaotic life that moncler outlets usa resulted is the subject of much of her nonfiction. But as Franklin’s subtitle, “A Rather Haunted Life,” suggests, Jackson also had a tragic private life: She was Official Moncler Outlet a fragile, damaged and often desolate person, subject not just moncler coats for men to the trials that beset ambitious women of her generation but to torments all her own.

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moncler mens jackets Chief among the tormentors was her mother, a vain, thoughtlessly cruel social climber who didn’t think much of her daughter and never bothered to disguise it. She wanted a beautiful, dutiful child she could moncler outlet online groom to be a debutante, and instead she got one who was dreamy, willful and overweight, more interested in making up stories than in clothes or moncler jackets hairstyles. As an adolescent, Jackson was such a mess that her mother informed her she Discount Moncler Coats was the product of a failed abortion. But to the end of her life Jackson also remained in thrall to her impossible to please mother, writing her elaborate letters trying to justify herself and explaining what a successful wife and parent she was. In truth, she was always an outsider, someone who never quite fit in.

moncler sale outlet Jackson’s husband was both an ally moncler jackets mens and an antagonist. They began as soul mates: Hyman had never even met her when, after reading a story of Jackson’s in an undergraduate magazine, he declared he was going to moncler jacket online marry her, and he remained an ardent champion. But they also drove each other crazy. He was fastidious; she was sloppy. In theory he was devoted to the children, but left all moncler outlet location the work to her. And Hyman, who objected to monogamy on philosophical grounds, was chronically unfaithful. Franklin says he mostly adhered to a moncler jackets outlet “hundred mile rule,” scheduling his trysts far from home, and unlike many Bennington profs, he at least waited until his students had graduated before pursuing them. But these affairs caused Jackson great pain nonetheless, especially toward the end of her life, when he actually fell in love with one of his conquests. Neglecting the shift key, as she almost always did, she told him in a letter: “you once wrote me a letter (i know you hate my remembering these things) telling me that i would never be lonely again. i think that was the first, the most dreadful, lie you ever told me.”

cheap moncler Jackson, for her part, once enjoyed a drunken grope, and possibly more, with Dylan Thomas on a winter night in Connecticut, but in general seems less sexually driven than Hyman. There is some evidence, though Franklin dismisses it, that as a child she may have been molested by her Uncle Clifford. In college some people moncler coats cheap thought she might be a lesbian, though there is even less evidence for that. She had, in fact, moncler jacket outlet an exaggerated fear of lesbianism, and in the late ’50s was sent into a tailspin of moncler outlet kids depression when she discovered herself mentioned in a scholarly book about lesbian themed writing. In Jackson’s own work, as several critics have pointed out, sex is mostly noticeable for being so absent. Her characters moncler coats long for emotional connections but seldom make them.

monlcer down jackets The story of Jackson’s sad and difficult career is told with more vividness and in some discount moncler jackets ways with more intimacy in an earlier biography, Judy Oppenheimer’s “Private Demons,” which came out in 1988, and which Franklin, though a careful researcher and fastidious about sources, never mentions in the text. But Oppenheimer is a journalist, not a critic, and her book, based largely on interviews with Jackson’s family and friends, is interested more in the life moncler coats for cheap than the work. The value of Franklin’s book, which benefited from access to archives unavailable to Oppenheimer, is its thoroughness and the way she traces Jackson’s evolution as an artist, sensibly pointing out what’s autobiographical and what isn’t. But her prose, it should be added, was a lot less upholstered than theirs. What makes her masterpiece, “The Haunting of Hill House,” so scarily effective is its matter of factness, the cleanness of its narrative line. That book, a ghost story, moncler outlets uk is often cheap moncler jackets compared to James’s “Turn of the Screw,” but as in a lot of Jackson’s work, its darkness is partly https://www.moncleroutletmall.com lifted by a slyly humorous streak reminiscent of Muriel Spark or even the Hilary Mantel of novels like “Vacant Possession,” “Fludd” and “Beyond Black.”

cheap moncler coats Franklin, more than Oppenheimer, wants to play down the chaos of Jackson’s life, and even suggests that the hurtling back and forth between cooking and cleaning and stolen sessions at moncler jackets on sale her desk may have been as enabling as it was moncler jackets toronto burdensome. Until it wasn’t. cheap moncler Always a heavy drinker and smoker, Jackson, while trying to lose weight, became dependent on pills of every sort, uppers and downers. Her mood swings became more extreme, and in 1963 she suffered a full fledged breakdown, during which she was not only unable to write, she could barely leave her room. After seeking psychiatric help, she seemed to be recovering, and was happily working again, though also preoccupied with the idea of leaving Hyman and creating a new home somewhere. Then, on the sultry afternoon of Aug. 8, 1965, she had a heart attack and died in her moncler outlet usa sleep. She was only 48. At the time she was working in what she called “a new style,” on a novel that she hoped would be “a funny book. a happy book.” But her last published story, which came out four months later, was about discount moncler outlet a solitary New England woman who sent off nightly letters describing the terrible secrets of her neighbors. He is the editor of a Library of America collection of John O’Hara’s stories, moncler coats for kids which has just been published.

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