Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Okay, confession time: before reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle the only work I'd ever read by Shirley Jackson was "The Lottery," which is a great short story but it was NOT ENOUGH.
Everything after this is spoilers. Just be warned, I'm spoiling the shit out of this book because I'm so excited but I can't really talk about it without talking about major important surprise plot points.
Y'all this book was fucking amazing, it made me feel whole and frightened, and it was maybe the greatest experience I've ever had with OCD in literature. I mean that's probably not a good thing, and look folks we can all accept that most people with mental illnesses aren't *spoilers* responsible for the deaths of their entire families. But SHIT. Shit this is so good. People have asked me what it's like dealing with OCD and now I can just hand them the book and say "it's terrible, have fun." Sure, it would be great if the best fictional representative of one of my illnesses I've ever encountered wasn't a murderer but it's so goddamned nice to see an OCD person who ritualizes and makes up rules and imagines the violent deaths of those around them and wants things in their place and makes up games to walk down the street but doesn't give two shits about whether or not her hands are washed.
DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TALISMANS AND AMULETS AND SHIT I'VE MADE IN MY LIFE? MARY CATHERINE IS MY GODDAMNED PATRONUS.
God, and it's such a well-constructed story. It's beautiful, the whole fucking book is stunning and delirious and I love it. I love the sisters, I love the cat, I love the horrid cousin, I love the townspeople, I love the HUGE TWIST with the uncle.
I really want to read everything else Shirley Jackson has ever written now. I can't tell you how happy I am with this book, how much I enjoyed reading it, or what a fucking relief it was to feel a character who felt like me even if she was a fucking monster.
Jackson, Shirley. We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Penguin. New York: New York. 2016. (1962).