Friday, November 8, 2013

Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson

Raising DemonsRaising Demons by Shirley Jackson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I needed something light (and also light weight) for bedtime since I'm at Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings and not only is the journey stressful, but the book might crush me if I fell asleep reading it.

I was perusing my shelves and came across this old favorite which was just what I needed. Written with all of Jackson's usual skill, it is a complete opposite to her better known horror works (The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House). This book about life with her family may call to mind something like Please Don't Eat the Daisies or Erma Bombeck, but please believe me when I say it is something out of the ordinary. (You may hear some samples at Forgotten Classics if you are interested.)

Only she can combine a seemingly mundane occurrences in ways that continually make me laugh out loud, though I've read the books many times before. In fact, she can do more with what is unsaid ... or half-said ... than any author I can think of.
By the Saturday before Labor Day a decided atmosphere of cool restraint had taken over our house, because on Thursday my husband had received a letter from an old school friend of his named Sylvia, saying that she and another girl were driving through New England on a vacation and would just adore stopping by for the weekend to renew old friendships. My husband gave me the letter to read, and I held it very carefully by the edges and said that it was positively touching, the way he kept up with his old friends, and did Sylvia always use pale lavender paper with this kind of rosy ink and what was that I smelled - perfume? My husband said Sylvia was a grand girl. I said I was sure of it. My husband said Sylvia had always been one of the nicest people he knew. I said I hadn't a doubt. My husband said that he was positive that I was going to love Sylvia on sight. I opened my mouth to speak but stopped myself in time.

My husband laughed self-consciously. "I remember," he said, and then his voice trailed off and he laughed again.

"Yes?" I asked politely.

"Nothing," he said.
Any description I give really doesn't do the book justice so please just give it a try.

Her previous book about her family, Life Among the Savages, is just as good. In fact, the book titles alone give you an idea of the humor contained therein.


  1. I've never read any of her novels, but I have read a number of her short stories, ad have always been impressed. I think she's an under rated writer.