Tag Archives: Shirley Jackson

Novel Insights’ March Review

March has been a funny mix of reads on Novel Insights! I started the month with a crime-wave of sorts, but also randomly read some spooky short stories, a social commentary on Egypt and a Chilean novel. Here’s the summary, favourites first:

Lasting Damage, by Sophie Hannah

4.5 stars4.5/5

“…delivered a typically twisted finale.”

Lasting Damage

 

 

 

 

The Tooth, by Shirley Jackson

4 stars 4/5

“…a brilliant bite-sized selection of unsettling moments and everyday horrors.”

Pengin Mini Modern Classics, The Tooth, Shirley Jackson

 

 

 

The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany

4 stars4/5

“…vibrant characters and an engaging narrative.”

The Yacoubian Building

A Room Swept White, by Sophie Hannah

3.5 stars3.5/5

“…a couple of little frustrations for me… overall a cracking page-turner…”

A Room Swept White, by Sophie Hannah

 

 

 

 

The Private Life of Trees, by Alejandro Zambra

3.5 stars3.5/5

…playfully written…”

Private Life of Trees, by Alejandro Zambra

 

 

 

 

What were your favourite reads in March?

The Tooth, by Shirley Jackson

4 stars4/5

After so enjoying two other editions from the Penguin Mini Classics set, I bought a copy of The Tooth, by Shirley Jackson. What a curious collection! Of the five stories in the book, I found three brilliant and the other two a little baffling.

Pengin Mini Modern Classics, The Tooth, Shirley Jackson

Pengin Mini Modern Classics, 2011 edition (paperback), 70 pages - own purchase.

The highlights for me were the shortest stories The Lottery, Charles and The Witch. All three sent shivers down my spine. In Charles and The Witch the stories are set in quite an ordinary situation, but as you read on, Jackson introduces an element of unease and plants an uncomfortable idea about what might be happening. These two stories also centre around the behaviour of children and what they might be capable of. The Lottery is more about community and the ability of the collective to affect the will of an individual.

The Tooth is the longest story in the book and I freely admit that I didn’t ‘get it’. It describes the experience of a young woman who travels to the city on her own to have her tooth extracted. I found it a little disorientating – which incidentally, is probably the point. In her drugged up, post-op state the woman experiences dreamlike moments of confusion. I thought it was evocative but something was missing for me because it was a little too abstract. I felt the same also with the final story – The Intoxicated.

I think that it is actually to be expected when reading stories designed to be disturbing that a reader should be more affected by some than others, if only because certain ideas will make a specific person feel more uneasy than others. As a collection I thought The Toothwas a brilliant bite-sized selection of unsettling moments and everyday horrors.

More Mini Moderns: You can read my reviews of other Mini Moderns – Children on their Birthdays, by Truman Capote (4/5), and Through The Wall, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (5/5), and see a list of other blogger’s reviews of this excellent series at the Curious Book Fans blog. Savidge Reads also read The Tooth and loved it.

Have you read any Shirley Jackson stories?

Serendipitous Book-Buying

Yesterday I was made a delightful last-minute diversion to see Savidge Reads after discovering that my trip up North for work would mean I was within spitting distance of Manchester. I was sad to have been unable to make it in time to go to John Rylands library – see how fabulous it looks:

John Rylands Library

Oh dear, I’ll suppose I’ll just have to go back and visit again!

Of course a trip to a book shop was in order, so we popped into Waterstones for a drink in the café.

Simon persuaded me that I should get the new Sophie Hannah book – Lasting Damage.  I’m a bit off a  devotee, having started out reading her short stories and going on to read every one of the Waterhouse & Zailer series. It was with very little difficulty that he overcame my grumbling about not having read A Room Swept White first by pointing out that the new hardback cost less than a paperback.

I was thoroughly impressed by the Penguin Mini-Moderns, and Shirley Jackson’s writing was recommended to me after my glowing review of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s short stories, so I also invested a modest £3 in the The Tooth.

And… what should happen today? I fell into my local second hand book shop and lo and behold a nearly-new copy of A Room Swept White was for sale for £2.50.

Have you made any serendipitous book purchases recently?