As a site, we’ve been on a Shirley Jackson kick, and I have had this old copy of her domestic memoir sitting on my shelf for a few years.
Simply put this book is super weird and super funny. There’s something that happens when I watch old movies, read old books, and think about old times. I convince myself that I am looking at life in a foreign culture and from a foreign perspective, like there’s nothing to be actively learned about humanity from it. Instead, I often find books like this one where what is instantly familiar and recognizable come at me. It’s somewhat comforting for things to feel normal.
Here’s a long passage that sort of characterizes what is hilarious and weird about this book.
“Sometimes in my capacity as mother, I find myself sitting open-mouthed and terrified before my own children, little individual creatures moving solidly along in their own paths and yet in some mysterious manner vividly reminiscent of a past which my husband and I know we have never communicated to them; I remember the little shock of familiarity I felt when I first saw Jannie skip down the front walk, and the sense of lost years slipping past, unrealized, when Laurie came home chanting “O U T spells out, and out you go, down to the bottom of the deep blue sea with a dirty dishrag turned inside out,” although there was a heated family discussion about the second line of “Ibbity, Bibbity, Sibbity, Sab,” because Laurie believed that it went “Ibbity, bibbity, conoso,” and I said it was “conothco,” and my husband said it was “Ibbity, bibbitty, canrsie,” and it reminded me of the little idiocy which went “Laurie bumbaurie tiliaurie gosaurie,” although my husband said that one ended “gotaurie.”
So it’s basically two hundred and fifty pages of stories like that.