Printed Page Bookshop
November 2022

Shirley Jackson:  The mother of domestic horror
Ask a random group of readers who they think of when they think of horror writers, and you'll probably get Stephen King, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.  But ask people who are experts in the genre, and certainly you'll hear the name of Shirley Jackson.  Although she wrote more than just horror, it's her scary stories that most readers find most memorable.
"The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable," wrote A. M. Homes.  "It is a place where things are not what they seem; even on a morning that is sunny and clear there is always the threat of darkness looming, of things taking a turn for thw worse."  Jackson's characters -- mostly unloved daughters in search of a home, a career, a family of their own -- chase what appears to be a harmless dream until, without warning, it turns on its heel to seize them by the throat.
Still known to millions primarily as the author of "The Lottery," Jackson (1916-1965) has been curiously absent from the mainstreem of literary suspense and psychological horror.  Jackson plumbed the psychclogical anxiety of post-war America more deeply than anyone. Almost two decades before "The Feminine Mystique" ignnited the women's movement, Jackson's stories and nonfiction chronicles were already exploring the exploitation and the desperate isolation of women, particularly married women, in American society.  
Jackson lived a seeming bucolic life, yet, much like her stories, which channeled the occult while exploring the claustrophobia of marriage and motherhood, Jackson's creative ascent was haunted by a darker side.  As her career progressed, her marriage became more tenuous, and she became addicted to amphetamines and tranquilizers.  She died far too young.
But she left us with some gems of the genre:  "The Haunting of Hill House," "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," "The Witch," "Pillar of Salt" and dozens of other memorables stories.  If there's a writer deserving of a new genertion of readers, we'd submit Shirley Jackson as our prime nominee.
Sources:  Shirley Jackson, Novels and Stories (Library of America), Shirley Jackson:  A Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin.

 Printed Page College of Biblio Knowledge returns November 19

Our class about books, book collecting and book care returns Saturday, November 19 from 9 to 10:30 am.  Students sit in rapt attention as Dan and John discuss book terminology, first edition identification, bibliographies, the economics of book collecting, book care and more.  And it's free!  Sign up by sending us an email to

This Month's Puzzler
On November 7, 1913, this man was born in Mondovi, Algeria. While attending the University of Algiers, he studied classics while excelling in soccer, boxing, and swimming. When tuberculosis cut short his physical activities, he embarked on a writing career, first in Algeria and then in France. In the 1940s, while a member of the French Resistance, he wrote some of the era's most compelling essays and novels.

On January 4, 1960, he died at age 46 in an automobile accident near Sens, France (about an hour's drive Southeast of Paris). Three years before his death, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the second-youngest recipient of the literature award (Rudyard Kipling was 42 when he received the award in 1907). At his death, his 1942 novel "The Stranger" was on its way to becoming the top-selling French novel of the 20th century.

With his rugged good looks and passionate writings on the search for meaning in a world without intrinsic meaning, he developed an almost cult-like popularity. He also had a gift for capturing important ideas in memorable ways. In "A Happy Death" (1971), his first novel (but not published until a decade after his death), he wrote:

"Like any work of art, life needs to be thought about."

Who is this man?                   (Answer below)

Puzzler answer

Albert Camus.  If you like our Puzzler, find more on our Facebook page.  
Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for the use of his puzzler.  Visit him at

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