Happy birthday, Shirley Jackson

As I climb my way out of the infinite pit that has been finals week, I’m actually starting to be able to read things on the internet again.  Daybook tells me that it’s Shirley Jackson’s birthday today.  Jackson is a perennial Skinny House favorite, despite my not being able to scrape together enough time to read her entire catalog as I’d like.  Maybe this winter break will finally be the time.

I can tell you that Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” is a Halloween must-read every year.  But it turns out it wasn’t so popular with the readers of The New Yorker, where it appeared in 1948.  Many angry subscribers wrote in to express their distaste for the tale.  Not to worry, though: the stir it caused basically launched Jackson’s career.  (You can read the story here.)

Jackson may have been disliked by a percentage of the magazine-reading public, but she was highly regarded by literary dreamboat Vladimir Nabokov; in his copy of stories from The New Yorker, he gave “The Lottery” an A.

If you happen to have a subscription, you can read all 12 stories Jackson published in the magazine.

Thanksgiving reads

As much effort as I put into holiday-appropriate reading for Halloween, I somehow always let Thanksgiving pass me by.  Who the hell wants to read about turkeys and the forced appropriation of land anyway?

This year, though, there’s been a lot of attention on Thanksgiving-related reading.  The Smart Set covers Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving.”  Maud Newton points out how Mark Twain spent one Thanksgiving (being a lovable looney, just like any other day); the LOA posts Twain’s short story, “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey”; and the New Yorker shares the menu for one of Twain’s Thanksgiving dinners, which took place at the Park Avenue Hotel.

And then there’s the random assortment I found on that bastion on random knowledge, About.com.  Rebecca Harding Davis’s “Jane Murray’s Thanksgiving”; “Mirages” by Walt Whiman; “The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor” by the wonderfully named Hezekiah Butterworth; and another Twain entry, the rather politically charged “What I Am Thankful For.”

But what will I really be reading?  The answer is obvious, since I didn’t get nearly enough creepiness in my Halloween reading: Joyce Carol Oates’s “Thanksgiving,” from Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque.  Oh, and this fascinating Thanksgiving Day letter sent from Yokohama, Japan.