Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s

At Book Marks Leah Schnelbach tagged ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, including:
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
(Liveright, 2016)

I wanted to include at least a little non-fiction here, and I could think of no better book than Ruth Franklin’s comprehensive biography of Shirley Jackson. Jackson’s life was shot through with pain—her mother was an emotionally manipulative nightmare, and her husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, was a serial adulterer whose behavior certainly didn’t help her struggles with depression. But Jackson fought back with dark wit. She didn’t just raise a family, she wrote two riotous collections of domestic observation—Life Among the Savages: An Uneasy Chronicle and Raising Demons, which sort of turned her into a mid-50s Erma Bombeck…who told reporters she practiced witchcraft (and quite possibly did). She hosted a sparkling and diverse literary circle in her home in Vermont, which included her close friends Ralph and Fanny McConnell Ellison. And, of course, when she wasn’t doing all of that she wrote “The Lottery,” which quickly became one of the most infamous short stories in American literary history, and the greatest haunted house novel of all time in Haunting of Hill House. And that’s just barely scratching the surface of her literary output.

Franklin uses the book not just to excavate the frustrating facts of Jackson’s pre-Second Wave life, but also to make it clear that Jackson was one of the foremost writers of the 20th Century, in any genre or any gender. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life is an indispensable biography for writers, horror fans, and feminist literary critics alike.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin.

--Marshal Zeringue