About mini reviews:
Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .
With Lesa Lockford narrating Shirley Jackson’s first memoir, Life Among the Savages, about her life in Vermont, this lovely, charming voice comes at you. But Jackson’s writing grabs you by the front of your shirt and drags you, even though this is “just” a domestic memoir. One particular passage about Jackson, her husband, her son, her daughter, and her baby all having grippe about gave me a panic attack. Sounds innocuous, but she hit all my anxiety buttons. Jackson’s children can be wacky, sweet, and total lying shit heads. The setting is memorable: we’re pre-seat belts or car seats, people still send out their laundry and have a milkman, and Jackson at nine months pregnant continues to smoke and drink coffee. With the rhythmic writing I associate with Jackson’s novels and Lockford’s mother-of-the-year voice, I found myself enjoying (yet gripping the steering wheel) the small-town nuttiness. No wonder Shirley Jackson wrote horror. I think I would have preferred Life Among the Savages as a physical copy so I could relish in the repetition meant to create unease, instead of Lockford’s voice delivering her interpretation of unease.
Shirley Jackson’s second memoir, Raising Demons, continues when the family moves into a new house after they discover they have no more room in their current rental situation. The time period focuses mostly on when the children are ages 3, 6, 9, and 12. Much like Life Among the Savages, Jackson is able to use repetition and building intensity to strum my anxiety strings, even if she’s talking about something as simple as getting a new cat to catch mice in their house. The oldest boy continues to be horrible, condescendingly starting all sentences with “Loook” in the most East-coast accent and calling Shirley Jackson a “tippy old lady.” Sally (6), my favorite, is imaginative, takes up magic that her family is convinced actually works, and still rides upside down in the car. Another humorous, anxiety-inducing, possibly selective look into Shirley Jackson’s family life. For the same reasons as in my first review, I would have preferred Raising Demons as a physical copy.
want to know more about shirley jackson?
Oddly, Jackson never mentions writing in her memoirs. I recently learned of biography entitled Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin in which the author explores Jackson’s toxic marriage, which is never revealed in Jackson’s memoirs. I’ll be reading Franklin’s nearly 700-page biography in a few weeks.