I can’t remember exactly when it was that I fell in love with short stories. I’d like to say that it was sometime around the age or twelve or thirteen, when I started reading Ray Bradbury books. Now that I spend so much of my year on the road, a short story is perfect for the time spent driving between cities, waiting around at venues, or getting ready to fall asleep on a friend’s floor. I pick up a novel every once in awhile, but it’s torture to put a good book down, and you often have to do exactly that when you’re traveling.


I digress. Shirley Jackson is known to many of us for her dark and disturbing short story called “The Lottery.” One where a young girl is stoned to death in the spirit of tradition while the townspeople laugh and thwart any attempt made by another participant to protest the act.


This book is a collection of Shirley Jackson’s stories, twenty-five of them to be exact, and all exude the dark and ominous scenarios that seem to be a signature of the late Jackson’s writing style.


My favorite story from this collection is “The Daemon Lover”, which follows a young woman’s race through town to find her fiancé. She’s mocked, belittled, and sent on a goose chase throughout the tale. She does eventually find an answer as to his whereabouts, but the lead that she’s given does not tell a happy ending. It is dismal and eerie.


Another few pages that I thoroughly enjoyed was “The Tooth”. Written poetically, the reader is allowed to join a woman as she goes through dental surgery and given drugs which force her, at times, to see herself from the outside while she tries to perform daily activities. Suspenseful and surreal, this one is a trip.


The book is divided into four sections, each with beautiful poetry to give the reader a breath. I found the majority of these poems to be misanthropic, stating some disdain toward the general populous’ inability to see the deeper meanings in certain art forms. It helped set the stage for the next set of stories, each showcasing uncertainty and doom.


Short stories, but certainly not sweet stories. You're in for some chills with this one.


Click the picture below to pick up a copy.


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Ando Ehlers | 
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