Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson


Shirley Jackson has always been one of my favorite authors.  I have read "The Haunting of Hill House" and "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" which was my favorite of the two.  When I read about "The Lottery" being the scariest thing probably ever written I had to read it so I obtained a copy.  It is a compilation of short stories by Jackson, the last one being "The Lottery".  Well, I had to read that one first to see if it was the most horrific thing ever written and I have to say -- no.  I don't think so.  In fact, it seemed really familiar to me -- had I read it before or seen a movie or something along these lines?  Can't remember but it wasn't frightening.  In fact, the entire book is a bit of a disappointment -- so much so that I won't be finishing it.  Each short story is vaguely written with a twist.  All that I had read were depressing and extremely "psychological".  Honestly, it was very Twilight Zone-ish.  I was not impressed.

I usually don't give up on books -- I  try to only buy books that I know I will like and since I have always been a fan of Shirley Jackson, it never occurred to me that I  wouldn't like this.   However, I don't and I have a huge stack of books in my library to read so I will be putting this one  aside.  Maybe one day, when I have caught up, I will revisit but not right now. 

Why ...

I have always been an anxious person.  I was raised in a home that did not shield me from the things of life -- deaths, fires, accidents, job losses, friend losses, rejection, tornadoes -- you know -- everyday life.  Perhaps these occurrences contributed to my lifelong anxiety, they probably did (especially in the case of fire) but my parents always tried to use these things as a learning opportunity and I have to say that I think I am a stronger person and I never once felt that I wasn't being protected by my family. 

And then...

there were the disaster drills at school, in the 50's, when we were supposed to  was crawl under our desks in the event of a nuclear disaster.  I remember my mother telling me that if anything happened when I was in school and I looked outside and saw a big cloud that looked like a mushroom, don't go outside.  Really?  Don't go outside?  Get under the desk?  All of a sudden I felt very unprotected -- my parents couldn't protect me from THAT! People were buying bomb shelters and having them installed in the yard.  I wanted one and I never wanted to go to school again and I found myself looking outside at the clouds -- a lot.  I was officially a nervous person.

The next time I felt completely out of control of my existence was during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  With good reason I was pretty scared.  Home was San Antonio which was also home to five military bases -- a pretty significant target.  Schools were closed, we stocked up and stayed in with the tv going.  I was looking out the windows at clouds.  We were fine except for the bit of innocence lost.

As I ventured into high school and college we were in the Viet Nam era with all the political ramifications of the times.  I remember one of my high school dances having to be moved due to bomb threats and there was one sociology class that was finally cancelled because we never had a class that was uninterrupted by a bomb threat and evacuation.  I remember one such evacuation, we were told to leave via the stairwells and not the escalators -- ha! I went down the escalator and was reprimanded by a cop who had been a high school friend -- I told him that I would rather get blown up on the escalator than  get trampled to death on the stairs -- oh, did I mention he was very cute.  He shall remain nameless.  Was I afraid?  Well, initially, yes but after so many times it is like crying wolf.  Besides,  this was the 60's -- great music, great clothes, great dates -- who had time to worry about stuff like that when  we were, after all, invincible.

Then came the 70's and I was grown with babes of my own and my first huge fear was of a meteor or space junk that was supposed to hit the earth someplace.  I was pregnant.  My OB-GYN thought I was crazy and actually laughed at me.  I was petrified.  It didn't fall on me -- in fact, I don't really remember what happened -- but I was unscathed and a bit ashamed of the actual fear that had come over me.

Life has gone on.  I have lived through much more of the "life stuff" and I have seen so much more.  Am I afraid?  No, not any more.  I am, however, disgusted.  Really so disgusted.  What in the world is wrong with people?  Why don't people appreciate what we have in this world?  Why are people so hell bent on destroying everything? It makes me sick.