Private Demons

Judy Oppenheimer, Author Putnam Publishing Group $19.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-13356-5
A porpoise born to a tenacious goldfish (in the words of one of her sons), Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) early rejected the torch of her family's gracious country-club conventionality. ``She would laugh at it, flaunt it, rebel against it. But she would carry her mother within her, an unexorcised demon,'' throughout her short life. This sympathetic biography confirms that the meeting of Jackson (a loner, whose route led her inward) and Stanley Edgar Hyman (``a bearded, loud-mouthed communist Jew'' who thrived on having an audience) set her firmly on her career path. Famous above all for ``The Lottery,'' she wrote plays, short stories, light novels, gothics and science fiction, while Hyman produced some of the most brilliant criticism of his time. For 25 years, surrounded by a coterie of creative people at colleges in New York and Vermont, this improbable couple taught, wrote, argued, emoted, smoked and drank to excess (Jackson alone ate a pound of butter a day)and died too young. They left a mixed legacy: four troubled, ``somewhat reclusive'' children, and some of the most lively writing of mid-century America. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 00/00/0000
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