The Lottery and other stories, by Shirley Jackson

Collection of short stories, with "The Lottery" being the most well-known. This was a 99p Kindle deal-of-the-day which was pretty well reviewed, although several people seemed to think that the other stories were not as good as the title one.

Most of the stories were fairly straightforward (if a little off-kilter sometimes) except for the title story. When I got to this (which is the last in the collection), I fairly soon realised I'd read it before: I suppose it must have been referenced in a newspaper article or something and read it online (I can find complete copies of it at the time of writing).

Although I didn't remember exactly what happened from when I'd read it before, I think it lost some of the surprise value that it might otherwise have had, although to be honest I think I worked out (then and now) pretty quickly what was going on, and it wasn't that much of a surprise. I see that the story caused a lot of controversy when it was first published but I think it hasn't stood the test of time - at least in its ability to shock (it was first published in 1948).

The rest of the stories were relatively straightforward and nice enough to read without being fantastically striking. The first one I really liked was "Like Mother Used to Make" which had a guy preparing a nice dinner for a woman who lived in the same apartment block, but being caught up in the lie that it was her that had done the preparation when a friend called in. A lot of the other stories sort of came to an end without an obvious "ending" but this one did finish nicely.

She used the work andirons which I'd not heard of before. And a couple of quotes I liked and highlighted:

"I didn't say nothing about him," Mrs. Anderson said, her head moving toward the front door. "I don't mention any names, not where anybody'd think I know the people."

Mrs. Hart thought of Mrs. Martin, keen-eyed and shrill, watching other people's groceries ("Two loaves of whole wheat today, Mrs. Hart? Company tonight, maybe?") "I think she's such a nice person," Mrs. Hart said, wanting to add, You tell her I said so.

and there was a story called "The Tooth" which was about a woman with toothache, travelling from home to the city to see a dentist, while in a sort of haze of pain and tiredness (this story ended in a bit of a weird and pleasingly ambigious way):

Well, she thought, I can buy new stockings in New York tomorrow, after the tooth is fixed, after everything's all right. She put her tongue cautiously on the tooth and was rewarded with a split-second crash of pain.

OK then, but not sure I'd read it all again: if I come back to this I'd like to remind myself to read "Like Mother Used to Make" and "The Tooth", but wouldn't bother with "The Lottery".

Completed : 10-Feb-2019

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