Let Me Tell You (Paperback)

New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings

By Shirley Jackson, Laurence Hyman (Editor), Sarah Hyman DeWitt (Editor), Ruth Franklin (Foreword by)

Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812987324, 448pp.

Publication Date: June 7, 2016

List Price: 18.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • From the renowned author of “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House, a spectacular new volume of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, essays, and other writings.

Features “Family Treasures,” nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story

Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American writers of the last hundred years. Since her death in 1965, her place in the landscape of twentieth-century fiction has grown only more exalted.

As we approach the centenary of her birth comes this astonishing compilation of fifty-six pieces—more than forty of which have never been published before. Two of Jackson’s children co-edited this volume, culling through the vast archives of their mother’s papers at the Library of Congress, selecting only the very best for inclusion.

Let Me Tell You brings together the deliciously eerie short stories Jackson is best known for, along with frank, inspiring lectures on writing; comic essays about her large, boisterous family; and whimsical drawings. Jackson’s landscape here is most frequently domestic: dinner parties and bridge, household budgets and homeward-bound commutes, children’s games and neighborly gossip. But this familiar setting is also her most subversive: She wields humor, terror, and the uncanny to explore the real challenges of marriage, parenting, and community—the pressure of social norms, the veins of distrust in love, the constant lack of time and space.

For the first time, this collection showcases Shirley Jackson’s radically different modes of writing side by side. Together they show her to be a magnificent storyteller, a sharp, sly humorist, and a powerful feminist.

This volume includes a Foreword by the celebrated literary critic and Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin.

Praise for Let Me Tell You

“Stunning.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Let us now—at last—celebrate dangerous women writers: how cheering to see justice done with [this collection of] Shirley Jackson’s heretofore unpublished works—uniquely unsettling stories and ruthlessly barbed essays on domestic life.”Vanity Fair

“Feels like an uncanny dollhouse: Everything perfectly rendered, but something deliciously not quite right.”—NPR

“There are . . . times in reading [Jackson’s] accounts of desperate women in their thirties slowly going crazy that she seems an American Jean Rhys, other times when she rivals even Flannery O’Connor in her cool depictions of inhumanity and insidious cruelty, and still others when she matches Philip K. Dick at his most hallucinatory. At her best, though, she’s just incomparable.”The Washington Post

“Offers insights into the vagaries of [Jackson’s] mind, which was ruminant and generous, accommodating such diverse figures as Dr. Seuss and Samuel Richardson.”The New York Times Book Review

“The best pieces clutch your throat, gently at first, and then with growing strength. . . . The whole collection has a timelessness.”The Boston Globe

“[Jackson’s] writing, both fiction and nonfiction, has such enduring power—she brings out the darkness in life, the poltergeists shut into everyone’s basement, and offers them up, bringing wit and even joy to the examination.”USA Today

“The closest we can get to sitting down and having a conversation with . . . one of the most original voices of her generation.”The Huffington Post


From the Hardcover edition.


About the Author

Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco on December 14, 1916. She first received wide critical acclaim for “The Lottery,” which was published in The New Yorker in 1948 and went on to become one of the most anthologized stories in American literature. She is the author of six novels, including The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle; four collections of short stories and essays, including Just an Ordinary Day; and two family memoirs, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. For many years she lived in North Bennington, Vermont, with her husband, the renowned literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, and their four children. She died on August 8, 1965.
 
Laurence Jackson Hyman, the eldest child of Shirley Jackson and Stanley Edgar Hyman, has spent most of his professional life in publishing: as writer, photographer, editor, art director, and publisher. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of dozens of books and monographs.
 
Sarah Hyman DeWitt is the third child of Shirley Jackson and Stanley Edgar Hyman. She is a performer, folksinger, and artist.
 
Ruth Franklin is a book critic and the author of A Thousand Darknesses, which was a finalist for the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. She has written for many publications, including The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Bookforum, and Granta. She is at work on a biography of Shirley Jackson.


From the Hardcover edition.


Praise For Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings

“Stunning.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Let us now—at last—celebrate dangerous women writers: how cheering to see justice done with [this collection of] Shirley Jackson’s heretofore unpublished works—uniquely unsettling stories and ruthlessly barbed essays on domestic life.”Vanity Fair
 
“[Let Me Tell You] feels like an uncanny dollhouse: Everything perfectly rendered, but something deliciously not quite right.”—NPR
 
“There are . . . times in reading [Jackson’s] accounts of desperate women in their thirties slowly going crazy that she seems an American Jean Rhys, other times when she rivals even Flannery O’Connor in her cool depictions of inhumanity and insidious cruelty, and still others when she matches Philip K. Dick at his most hallucinatory. At her best, though, she’s just incomparable.”The Washington Post
 
“[Let Me Tell You] offers insights into the vagaries of [Jackson’s] mind, which was ruminant and generous, accommodating such diverse figures as Dr. Seuss and Samuel Richardson.”The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“The best pieces clutch your throat, gently at first, and then with growing strength. . . . The strongest pieces wallop, and the whole collection has a timelessness.”The Boston Globe
 
“[Jackson’s] writing, both fiction and nonfiction, has such enduring power—she brings out the darkness in life, the poltergeists shut into everyone’s basement, and offers them up, bringing wit and even joy to the examination. . . . Fans who want a full portrait of the writer will find this anthology revealing and satisfying.”USA Today

“[Let Me Tell You] is the closest we can get to sitting down and having a conversation with . . . one of the most original voices of her generation.”The Huffington Post

“A master of uncanny suspense, [Shirley] Jackson wrote sentences that crept up on the reader, knife in hand. Throughout these previously unpublished pieces, whether short stories about Main Street murders or Jackson’s description of her own eerie writing process (sleepwalking and ghosts helped), the author’s mordant wit and nuanced prose are often shiver-inducing.”New York

“A sort of road map leading one to the very spot where so many of Jackson’s imaginings originated.”San Francisco Chronicle

“[Shirley Jackson is] the queen of American gothic. . . . Her horror is domestic; it takes place in the familiar world of the kitchen, the family, and known and loved objects. It unsettles too much to be read comfortably. When you finish a story, it follows you afterward and sinks into the walls of your own home and routine.”The New Republic
 
“Critics often write as if there were two Shirley Jacksons: one, the agoraphobic addict who penned weird tales like The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle; the other, the humorous chronicler of the ups and downs of family life in Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. The new collection of previously unpublished Jackson material, Let Me Tell You, shows them to be emphatically the same woman. If Jackson’s horror was often built around a warped domesticity, her domestic humor had glimmers of terror in it too.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Nobody was a more astute chronicler of the post-war crisis of the female mind in America than Jackson. . . . Let Me Tell You is a welcome addition to the reissues of Jackson’s novels.”The Millions
 
“The vast range of styles contained in Let Me Tell You, not to mention the range of genres, offers the reader an invigorating and unprecedented peek into the multifarious interests and intellect of one of the greatest writers in American literature.”Electric Literature

“[Let Me Tell You allows] Shirley Jackson to claim her rightful position as one of the most important writers, gothic or otherwise, of the twentieth century.”The Independent (U.K.)
 
“Whether it is your first encounter with this wholly original writer since reading ‘The Lottery’ in middle school or you are thrilled to discover this ‘new’ output from a writer you’ve long admired, this collection is a delight.”BookPage
 
“Shirley Jackson has been a powerhouse in American fiction ever since her haunting 1948 short story ‘The Lottery,’ which showcased her talent for turning the quotidian into something eerie and unnerving. . . . From short stories to comic essays to drawings, Jackson’s full range is on display, yet her wit and sharp examination of social norms are present throughout.”The Millions

“Some things never change: Jackson’s wry observations about keeping house in the 1950s (collected here along with essays and stories) are as spot-on today as they were when she wrote them.”Good Housekeeping

“Shirley Jackson is made of brilliance and I’d read everything of hers a million times. . . . A must for the Shirley Jackson addict.”—Omnivoracious

“There’s a wealth of horror to be found in the domestic, and no writer recognised this more keenly than Jackson herself. . . . These stories are so readable and real that, when it arrives, the sting in the tail sends a shudder down your spine.”The National (UAE)

“With the to-the-second pacing of a Twilight Zone episode, . . . [Jackson’s] stories never fail to deliver. . . . It doesn’t get much better than this.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Jackson, an inspiration to writers from Stephen King to Joyce Carol Oates, dared to look on the dark side and imagine the unimaginable, as demonstrated in this volume of her uncollected and unpublished work. . . . A multifaceted portrait of the artist as wife, mother, commentator on the comfortable middle class, and pioneer who explored the world of inexplicable, occasionally frightening phenomena.”Publishers Weekly

“Remember the chilling excitement of reading Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ for the first time? You’ll have that same experience over and over again with this new collection.”Library Journal