A few days ago, Paperback Reader wrote a post on The Lottery by Shirley Jackson that really captured my attention. I had to stop what I was doing and immediately read the story. A single word sums up my reaction - horror. I was utterly and completely horrified.
The Lottery, first published in The New Yorker in 1948, centers on a very ritualistic yearly lottery that occurs in a small, pastoral village. The story is very short (just 5 pages) and to say much more could spoil it. Read the story for yourself here, if you dare.
Throughout her life, Jackson (1916 - 1965) shied away from interviews and refused to promote or explain her work. However, The Lottery aroused such controversy that Jackson issued a statement in The San Francisco Chronicle on July 22, 1948:
Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.
The Lottery is truly an amazing read. I've never had a story evoke such strong emotions. Jackson is also well known for The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle It sounds like these would make excellent Halloween reading fare, and I'd like to read at least one of them this fall.
To see who else is talking about short stories today, visit The Book Mine Set.