A Thousand Flappers and Hobbledehoys

My name is Doug Wykstra, and this is some of the stuff I've read and watched.

The Haunting of Hill House: Review

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is a novel that uses the framework of a haunted house story to explore the horrors of our mundane, everyday lives. The house doesn’t seem to be a conduit for supernatural energies so much as a petri dish in which the modest fears of day-to-day existence can be magnified and fester.

If you’ve ever kicked yourself over a careless word you said during a conversation with someone you wanted to impress, or had unrequited romantic feelings so obvious that the object of those feelings feels compelled to treat you with pity, or had a friend who you weren’t really sure was that good a friend, or felt like the only group of friends you really belonged to would feel a lot better if you weren’t around, this is a horror novel about those fears, which seem so silly and mundane and even egotistical until you look at yourself and realize how they’ve slowly poisoned your entire sense of self, how much they’ve led you to believe you are this ugly and utterly disposable thing. I don’t mind admitting that it hit me hard: it seems built for people who are getting older without having attained any of the accomplishments they expected they’d have, a merciful euthanasia of the alternate lives we’ve created in our minds.

Shirley Jackson has a genius for constructing sentences that say little and suggest much, like if Henry James had had a more conscientious editor. Halfway through the book, I thought that it was impressive how she stayed within one person’s point of view while still making it perfectly clear what the other characters were thinking the whole time. As I read, I realized that I had misunderstood: what she had actually done was to put me in the point of view of a person who thought she knew exactly what the other characters were thinking. But she was mistaken, just like I had been. How embarrassing.

Interested in reading this? I’m an Amazon Affiliate, meaning that I link products from Amazon, and if anyone clicks those links to buy the product, they pay me a commission. If you’re interested in purchasing Book Title, just follow the link below:

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)

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This entry was posted on 21 October 2019 by in Elegant Extracts and tagged , , , .
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