Life Among the Savages

Life Among the Savages Shirley Jackson author of the classic short story The Lottery was known for her terse haunting prose But the writer possessed another side one which is delightfully exposed in this hilariously cha

Shirley Jackson, author of the classic short story The Lottery, was known for her terse, haunting prose But the writer possessed another side, one which is delightfully exposed in this hilariously charming memoir of her family s life in rural Vermont Fans of Please Don t Eat the Daisies, Cheaper by the Dozen, and anything Erma Bombeck ever wrote will find much to recogniShirley Jackson, author of the classic short story The Lottery, was known for her terse, haunting prose But the writer possessed another side, one which is delightfully exposed in this hilariously charming memoir of her family s life in rural Vermont Fans of Please Don t Eat the Daisies, Cheaper by the Dozen, and anything Erma Bombeck ever wrote will find much to recognize in Shirley Jackson s home and neighborhood children who won t behave, cars that won t start, furnaces that break down, a pugnacious corner bully, household help that never stays, and a patient, capable husband who remains lovingly oblivious to the many thousands of things mothers and wives accomplish every single day Our house, writes Jackson, is old, noisy, and full When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books Jackson s literary talents are in evidence everywhere, as is her trenchant, unsentimental wit Yet there is no mistaking the happiness and love in these pages, which are crowded with the raucous voices of an extraordinary family living a wonderfully ordinary life.

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Life Among the Savages

  1. Shirley Jackson was an influential American author A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.She is best known for her dystopian short story, The Lottery 1948 , which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown America In her critical biography of Shirley Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that when Shirley Jackson s story The Lottery was published in the June 28, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it received a response that no New Yorker story had ever received Hundreds of letters poured in that were characterized by, as Jackson put it, bewilderment, speculation and old fashioned abuse Jackson s husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, wrote in his preface to a posthumous anthology of her work that she consistently refused to be interviewed, to explain or promote her work in any fashion, or to take public stands and be the pundit of the Sunday supplements She believed that her books would speak for her clearly enough over the years Hyman insisted the darker aspects of Jackson s works were not, as some critics claimed, the product of personal, even neurotic, fantasies , but that Jackson intended, as a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the Bomb , to mirror humanity s Cold War era fears Jackson may even have taken pleasure in the subversive impact of her work, as revealed by Hyman s statement that she was always proud that the Union of South Africa banned The Lottery , and she felt that they at least understood the story.In 1965, Jackson died of heart failure in her sleep, at her home in North Bennington Vermont, at the age of 48.

265 Reply to “Life Among the Savages”

  1. This is an hilarious autobiographical account of Shirley Jackson and her husband, raising 2, then 3, then 4 children in a small Vermont town I listened to the audio version, narrated by Lesa Lockford, and I thought she was excellent.This has to be the funniest audiobook I ve ever heard It consists of vignettes regarding daily life, such as a bus trip to the store for school clothes, with 3 children, a doll carriage, a doll, etc, or a game of musical chairs, except it involves a sick household an [...]

  2. If I could adopt a parent, it would be Shirley Jackson She was a master of horror She hated housework, but always had time to whip up a big vat of chocolate pudding She smoked like a chimney, and according to her youngest son, who became a nutritionist consumed a pound of butter a day She was married to a brilliant man, but managed to keep his gargantuan ego in check with her razor sharp wit She was a crazy cat lady and amateur witch In other words, she is the mom I always wanted LIFE AMONG THE [...]

  3. I ve read Shirley Jackson at the peak of her form We Have Always Lived in the Castle.I ve read Shirley Jackson at her scariest The Haunting of Hill House.I ve read Shirley Jackson at her most psychologically incisive The Bird s Nest.Now I ve read Shirley Jackson at her funniest Life Among the Savages is a charming memoir of the author s domestic life As the title implies, she is the only civilized being in the midst of an ever increasing number of children and a husband who well, he is a grown m [...]

  4. I read this years ago, either before I had kids, or when I just had the one It s hilarious, but also a fascinating look, as a mother, into another time A time when women sat there smoking and drinking coffee on the day they were headed into the hospital to give birth A time when you put your daughter in an organdy party dress, white frilled socks, and white gloves to go to a birthday party, and were yourself embarrassed to realize that you were wearing jeans when you met the birthday girl s moth [...]

  5. I was reading The Haunting of Hill House when I discovered that Author Shirley Jackson also wrote humorous short stories about her life in Vermont raising three children in the 40 s and 50 s The stories were originally printed in popular magazines and collected in two books, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons I am amazed that an author I love for her incredi creepy, low key horror stories could also write such funny commentary on being a parent From her son s daily stories about a naughty [...]

  6. Name The desk clerk said to me politely Age She asked Occupation Writer, I said Housewife, she said Writer, I said I ll just put down housewife, she said Husband s name She said Occupation Just put down housewife, I said My first delve into Shirley Jackson s non fiction was beyond satisfying I ve read her horror, as well as Ruth Ware s fantastic biography, and now, her humour Life Among the Savages is a sort of memoir, Jackson reflecting on the mundanity of domestic life as well as raising her c [...]

  7. For someone with neither kids nor any interest in having kids, I have read a weirdly large number of memoirs about parenting Shirley Jackson s Life Among the Savages is, though slight, perfectly charming and funny It probably bears mentioning that it s tonally nothing like her fiction, although this book does in fact contain chaos and poltergeists and slippery identity It s all madcap and mostly lighthearted, but with a thread of genuine frustration running throughout that gives it a likable ace [...]

  8. I don t know what I had expected of Shirley Jackson s domestic memoir Heartfelt authenticity, sure A characteristic tone that is sensible instead of sentimental, of course But it wasn t such endearing humour I do wish it was longer even though the vignettes are about the mundane aspects of daily life albeit with serious moments that shed light on her family s financial struggles , Shirley presents them in such a gripping, charming way.

  9. Our house is old, and noisy, and full When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks.Gosh, I never would have thought I d be this into a non fiction domestic memoir But seriously if anyon [...]

  10. Shirley Jackson writes, in her brilliant deadpan humour, a slice of life memoir of raising children Funny and sweet.

  11. I love this book I don t know how many times I laughed out loud and startled members of my family The life of a housewife with four children, a husband, a dog and two cats doesn t seem like it could be a lot of fun but Shirley Jackson does exactly this Even though this book of short stories was published in the early 1950s the chaos of a daily life still ring true This is supposedly a moderately fictionalized memoir of Jackson s life with her children It is a light hearted book that brings humor [...]

  12. Shirley Jackson is most known for writing what the critics often call the best short story of all time and the best haunted house novel of all time Lesser known, but no less of an achievement, is Life Among the Savages which could very well be the best novel of parenting anecdotes Only a master writer can capture the hilarity of children rearing and Shirley Jackson proves herself an historic talent here than ever I laughed out loud the whole way through, and I have never raised a child.Shirley [...]

  13. This lighthearted memoir, which will most likely appeal to any mother and or fan of the late Shirley Jackson, gets a solid 4 stars because I am both, a mother and fan.Thoroughly enjoying Jackson s creepy, psychological thrillers, I ordered this not realizing it was a funny true to life glimpse into her life as a wife and mother of four, living in rural Vermont I had already read several of the vignettes, which appeared in Novels and Stories, a Library of America anthology, but at the time did no [...]

  14. Absolutely brilliant In addition to giving the world shattering books of keen psychological insight into the secret, dark soul of humanity, Jackson was also a loving mother of four, and here provides us with a generous helping of her wit and humor in this collection of stories about her family, turning everyday mishaps and adventures into something I almost even want to have kids now after reading this book to see what kind of hilarity would ensue within our own lives And then reread and laugh [...]

  15. I think Shirley Jackson must be my kindred spirit She s as bad a cook as I am and resorts to many of the same tricks I did to keep my brood of four under control It s hard to see in this funny, clever, sometimes overwhelmed housewife the author of The Haunting of Hill House and The Lottery On the other hand, who else would be in a position to see the best and the worst of people than a woman living in a small Vermont town Subject matter aside, Jackson s unique style is the same here as in her ma [...]

  16. This is one of Ms Jackson s nonfiction books she wrote about raising her kids in the 1950s It is such a funny book Her kids are riots, and she tells a really good story It s way different than her horror novels and while reading it you re thinking, I can t believe she wrote The Haunting of Hill House AND this I wish she would have written much nonfiction stuff Not that her fiction is bad, it s great actually You should read some They re very psychological.

  17. When I read the sentence about her daughter Jannie talking of a far away voice that sang to her from the corner of the room, I was like YES, JACKSON IS GOING TO GET CREEPY NOW No, I was wrong But instead we get a glimpse of what every day life was like for Jackson and her house full of children I enjoyed this book very much and am glad I picked it up.

  18. Shirley Jackson s hilarious chronicle of New England domesticity, with precocious children I love Sally, personally , disinterested husband, and Jackson herself as harried, neurotic wife The grippe episode alone is worth five stars The sequel, Raising Demons, isn t quite as good, but it s still very funny and gives baby Barry a chance to become his own little person.

  19. It may or may not be surprising that alongside my lifelong interest in macabre and supernatural fiction, I also have a very keen interest in humor comedy So it was kind of inevitable that my recent focus on Shirley Jackson Just an Ordinary Day The Uncollected Stories would direct me towards finally giving this famous offering a read.And, as others have noted, this is dry, low key domestic humor as Jackson turns her wit and narrative abilities to the topics of child rearing, homemaking and the li [...]

  20. My grandmother born in 1922, six years after Shirley Jackson had a pretty miserable childhood and a pretty miserable marriage, too but she had a way of turning those gothic horrors into comic grist for the mill I remember her always joking, always being relentlessly twinkly She was also dangerously overweight for most of her adult life Many years later, my mother described her and so many women of her generation as literally eating her pain.When I was reading this so called memoir, I was often r [...]

  21. At the beginning of this year I knew who Shirley Jackson had been, but had not read anything of her works Now I have read two, first the short story The Lottery and and a little later this one, and I m becoming a fan The Lottery is a great dystopian short story, but this is so different It s biographical to a certain extend, but it is written with such a humor that it is delightful to read It may not be the most accurate biography Jackson s life with her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman was by most a [...]

  22. This is the first book I ever read where I said, I want to be able to write like that I read it when I was maybe 10, borrowed from my mother s shelves If you want to know the single greatest influence on my writing style, this is it.Also, it never fails to make me laugh until I cry.

  23. I can t believe I didn t already know about this book I saw it on an NPR list of realistic books about motherhood, which sounded right up my alley I thought it was great probably like 4.5 stars The book is a semi fictional memoir about Jackson s life raising her children What was amazing about the book was how completely relevant it still is even though she was parenting her children over 50 years ago Leave it to the author of The Lottery to get it just right There were so many incidents in the [...]

  24. Life Among the Savages was an enjoyable read After reading a few of Jackson s novels, I was surprised to see such light hearted writing from Merricat and Eleanor s creator There is some lovely writing here She has one chapter about her idiosyncratic logic in making lists, which flows into some stream of consciousness dialogue Her trip to the hospital with her third child is a treat The narrative has holes here and there, timed for her contractions At one point, she tries to get the admitting nur [...]

  25. To anyone familiar with any of Shirley Jackson s novels of horror, or her tales of psychological disintegration, or at least her most famous spine chilling short story, The Lottery, the notion that the same author penned two light hearted book length domestic memoirs might seem preposterous Jackson s trenchant sense of humor, however, was always the leaven to her macabre sensibilities her rich appreciation of the absurd is, in fact, the engine to most of her writing Even in the territory of les [...]

  26. I don t think this is a great book for someone so very thoroughly in the mothering trenches as I am right now While it was interesting from a historical perspectiveoh, that s what my life would have been like in 1950 all hit just a little too close to home Why would I want to read about someone else s awkward encounters shopping with children I live it everyday It also didn t help that the book feels scattered, almost like she is so busy and distracted with her children that she can t complete a [...]

  27. Reading this made me feel crazy How did she not murder her children and her husband I wanted to scream and throttle them and scream again just reading about it It s funny and all, but it s so bleak Just an unrelenting onslaught of demands, unceasing chaos.Reflecting on my time as an au pair for three kids around these kids ages, I imagine it must be love reluctance to serve time aversion to death that keeps the primary parent from killing their offspring and useless partner and making it all sto [...]

  28. Basically one extended opus about how Shirley Jackson wasn t meant to be a housewife but acted the part I love this woman.

  29. A very funny deadpan look at family life with small children I was surprised that these stories originally published in various magazines dated back to the late 1940s early 1950s so much is still spot on I remember reading Charles back in elementary school, but the rest of these were new to me They don t quite pack the comedy punch of Ramona Quimby or something like that, maybe because they were intended for an adult audience or maybe because they were less fictional

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