cover image Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings

Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings

Shirley Jackson, edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman DeWitt. Random, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9766-8

Jackson, an inspiration to writers from Stephen King to Joyce Carol Oates, dared to look on the dark side and imagine the unimaginable, as demonstrated in this volume of her uncollected and unpublished work. The selected fiction and nonfiction ranges from explorations of the supernatural (“The Man in the Woods”) to domestic humor (“In Praise of Dinner Table Silence”) and observations of separated couples (“Homecoming”); from her earliest efforts (“Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) to lectures on writing that she gave at the height of her career (“Garlic in Fiction”)—all thoughtfully organized and edited by two of Jackson’s four children. Not every piece equals the artistry of “The Lottery,” the controversial 1948 story that became an anthology and textbook staple, nor do all the pieces prove as haunting as The Haunting of Hill House. Yet together they are a multifaceted portrait of the artist as wife, mother, commentator on the comfortable middle class, and pioneer who explored a world of inexplicable, occasionally frightening phenomena. Writing about her kitchen, she describes its feuding forks, preening glasses, and sarcastic eggbeater. Jackson suggests (rather than delves into) that which is unnerving, writing in a smart, sharp, clear voice. Line drawings, quotations, and a foreword by biographer Ruth Franklin enhance this reminder of why Jackson’s reputation flourishes 50 years after her death. (Aug.)