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It doesn’t tie any shoes

Madeleine Schwartz: Shirley Jackson, 5 January 2017

Shirley JacksonA Rather Haunted Life 
by Ruth Franklin.
Liveright, 585 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 87140 313 1
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Dark Tales 
by Shirley Jackson.
Penguin, 208 pp., £9.99, October 2016, 978 0 241 29542 7
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... I don’t think​ I like reality very much,’ Shirley Jackson used to say in her lectures on writing. It was an idea she returned to often. ‘Just being a writer of fiction gives you an absolutely unassailable protection against reality; nothing is ever seen clearly or starkly, but always through a thin veil of words ...

Dye the Steak Blue

Lidija Haas: Shirley Jackson, 19 August 2010

Shirley JacksonNovels and Stories 
edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
Library of America, 827 pp., $35, May 2010, 978 1 59853 072 8
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... In Shirley Jackson’s best-known story, ‘The Lottery’, the residents of a small New England village get together on a summer morning to draw lots. The sun shines, the children play, the villagers chat: it takes a few pages to figure out that they’re deciding who should be stoned to death this year. The New Yorker published the story in 1948, and got more calls and letters and cancelled subscriptions than ever before or since ...

How many times?

Nicole Flattery: Catherine Lacey, 16 July 2020

by Catherine Lacey.
Granta, 207 pp., £12.99, May, 978 1 78378 517 9
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... Ursula Le Guin and Flannery O’Connor, heavily. Pew is like O’Connor in the way a Netflix Shirley Jackson adaptation is like Shirley Jackson – which is to say not very – and its failings are only made more obvious by the similarities. O’Connor would have savagely skewered Kitty too, but would never ...

Much to be endured

D.J. Enright, 27 June 1991

Samuel Johnson in the Medical World: The Doctor and the Patient 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 293 pp., £30, March 1991, 0 521 38326 9
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... patient (in this case a fictional creation) doesn’t know what he is talking about. The novelist Shirley Jackson won’t be the only person to have said, or said something like: ‘When I have nightmares about a horrid building it is the horrid building I am having nightmares about, and no one is going to talk me out of it.’ As for ‘guilt’, when ...

Sleepwalker on a Windowledge

Adam Mars-Jones: Carmen Maria Machado, 7 March 2019

Her Body & Other Parties 
by Carmen Maria Machado.
Serpent’s Tail, 245 pp., £8.99, January 2019, 978 1 78125 953 5
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... an autumn fire; the Ascension of Frida Kahlo with self-portraits and costumes; the Presentation of Shirley Jackson, a winter holiday started at dawn and ended at dusk with a gambling game played with lost milk teeth and stones’. Still no mention of Judy Chicago despite all this namechecking, but then mothers are often taken for granted. ‘The Husband ...

‘Très vrai!’

Leah Price, 18 October 2001

Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books 
by H.J. Jackson.
Yale, 324 pp., £19.95, April 2001, 0 300 08816 7
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... the front of the queue by his star-struck parents, a boy begs Sendak not to ‘crap up my book’. Jackson’s central question – are marginalia crap? – has no simple answer, for her study uncovers our passionate ambivalence about unauthorised writing. One might not expect anyone to care enough about marginalia to love them or hate them, but ...

Blame it on the boogie

Andrew O’Hagan: In Pursuit of Michael Jackson, 6 July 2006

On Michael Jackson 
by Margo Jefferson.
Pantheon, 146 pp., $20, January 2006, 0 375 42326 5
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... Since being acquitted of child molestation charges last summer, Michael Jackson has been hanging out in Bahrain, enjoying the hospitality of the ruler’s poptastic son Sheikh Abdullah. Jackson is said to have become a Muslim (which is sure to please his critics on Good Morning America), but evidence would suggest he has yet to get the hang of Islamic custom ...

At the National Gallery

Naomi Grant: Gainsborough’s ‘Blue Boy’, 12 May 2022

... goddaughter of the Duke of Wellington prancing before her audience like a 19th-century Shirley Temple. There are ribbons and rosy cheeks and ringlets and more than a touch of Henry James. In a letter to her father, Lawrence wrote of his wish to ‘snatch’ a fleeting moment of beauty before the inevitable ‘change’ took place. The whole effect ...
Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 320 pp., $24.95, May 1996, 0 520 20407 7
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... Is there anything stranger than a pop star out of time? Before Elvis Presley, before Michael Jackson, there was Al Jolson – ‘the most popular entertainer of the first half of the 20th century,’ as Michael Rogin describes him. Eyes wide and mouth agape, arms outstretched and face painted black, Jolson concludes his performance in The Jazz Singer (1927) down on one knee, serenading the delighted actress who plays his mother in a voice as strong and piercing as a foghorn ...

Just Two Clicks

Jonathan Raban: The Virtual Life of Neil Entwistle, 14 August 2008

... family made the move to Hopkinton on Thursday, 12 January. On Sunday they were visited by Pamela Jackson, Hopkinton’s self-appointed ‘welcome lady’, who made it her business to greet newcomers to the neighbourhood. On the witness stand, Ms Jackson gushed, the word ‘adorable’ peppering her testimony. Lillian was ...

Loafing with the Sissies

Colm Tóibín: The Trials of Andy Warhol, 10 September 2020

Warhol: A Life as Art 
by Blake Gopnik.
Allen Lane, 931 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00338 1
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... In art school, when asked to make a self-portrait, he depicted himself as a girl ‘with Shirley Temple ringlets’. Pittsburgh was not a good place to be gay. In 1948 the police set up a Morals Squad with a mission ‘to arrest gay men’. In 1951, ‘Pennsylvania’s maximum sentence for sodomy was increased to life.’ Gopnik quotes a local: ‘If ...

Do I like it?

Terry Castle: Outsider Art, 28 July 2011

... his mother, certain family friends, the odd San Francisco civic leader and a little girl named Shirley Jean Bersie who lived in the artist’s Potrero Hill neighbourhood and liked to visit him and watch him draw. Most of Rizzoli’s drawings include captions and other pieces of text, invariably rendered in beautiful hand-drawn lettering reminiscent of ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... and had been offered an internship in New York.‘Her soul was of a kind,’ said Betty Jackson, speaking of her sister Mary Mendy, Khadija’s mother. Their relative Demel Carayol, also an artist and a former member of the group Soul II Soul, was full of memories the day I tracked him down in Palmers Green. ‘Mary came to the UK with the help of ...

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