Tag Archives: Shirley Jackson

House of the Seven Gables Readalong

Thanks to Michelle at Castle Macabre for hosting this readalong which fits perfectly inside of R.I.P. IX which I’d already signed up for.

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I’ve wanted to read this since I visited the house or what might be the inspiration for the house at age 12, maybe?   I’ve read the Marble Faun and Rappacini’s Daughter which I mostly liked and, of course, The Scarlet Letter, which I think I mostly didn’t.   Fine writing marred by puritanical outlook is my assessment so far, but I’ll give him another shot for the fine writing and I like a good readalong.

I wish I’d managed to finish Moby-Dick before starting this, but I think I’ll still finish Moby.  Only about 80 pages left.   The interesting thing is that Hawthorne and Melville were friends and met while Melville was writing Moby-Dick.   Hawthorne wrote Seven Gables shortly after they met.  So it seems appropriate to read them almost together.  I’ve started both Seven Gables and Hangsaman so I’m plunging into Peril with great abandon.   The description of the house is not all that much like the house they say it was based on, except for the gables.   The book talks about the upper floors overhanging the lower ones, diamond pane windows and ornamented with quaint figures.

 

800px-House_of_the_Seven_Gables_(front_angle)_-_Salem,_Massachusetts
Its whole visible exterior was ornamented with quaint figures, conceived in the grotesqueness of a Gothic fancy, and drawn or stamped in the glittering plaster, composed of lime, pebbles, and bits of glass, with which the woodwork of the walls was overspread.  On every side the seven gables pointed sharply towards the sky, and presented the aspect of a whole sisterhood of 
edifices, breathing through the spiracles of one 
great chimney.  The many lattices, with their small, diamond-shaped panes, admitted the sunlight into hall and chamber, while, nevertheless, the second story, projecting far over the base, and itself retiring beneath the third, threw a shadowy and thoughtful gloom into the lower rooms.  Carved globes of wood were affixed under the jutting stories.  Little 
spiral rods of iron beautified each of the seven peaks...
.... NOT!

I would love to see an artist’s depiction of the house based on the description in the book.   It sounds spookier and definitely gaudier.   But still the story’s off to a good start.   Hope I can stick with it.   It is, of course, much easier to read Shirley Jackson.   In fact, it’s difficult to stop reading Shirley Jackson.  Hangsaman focuses on 17 year old Natalie, who’s leaving home and heading for college in 3 weeks.   Natalie has very peculiar coping mechanisms for dealing with her life at home which seems to be rather hellacious to her for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me.  I can’t help wondering how much like Shirley Jackson’s life the Waite’s family life is.   I seem to remember them hosting academic parties.   It reads something like I remember their life from her bio, but it was so long ago I can’t be sure.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of this blog and I meant to write a post marking the occasion and summing up the year and all that, but I didn’t, and I’m not going to because I think there’s a reason I didn’t except to say that I think this blog has really kept me reading.  Well, this blog and others’.   Reading other peoples’ blogs and joining their readalongs and ‘thons has kept it all interesting.  Reading can be a lonely enterprise especially when you read something kickass and no one you know in real life pays any attention.  You can post it and hope to find someone whose life will be enriched a little as yours is by finding new books to read or just being entertained by their observations even when you don’t want to read the book in question.   Here’s to every blogger I’ve read and everyone who’s read me this year — thank you all!   Hoping for another enjoyable year!

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RIP VIII – Book 2

I actually finished Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House last night and figured I would think about it and write something this morning, but I couldn’t think of anything intelligent or amusing, so I left it for tonight.   I still don’t really have anything to say.  It was a very fast read.   I don’t think it’s as good as We Have Always Lived in the Castle.   If I were staying in a big old house and those things happened, I’d be scared to death, but they wouldn’t.  I think I’m non-plussed.   I think I prefer my ghosts to have more solid identities and desires.    A clear agenda.   Or one that becomes clear with time.   I was amused when Mrs. Montague showed up with her planchette.   I don’t get why when they found the creepy book in the library nobody talked about the fact it was apparently only addressed to one of the daughters.   Which daughter was it?   And why set up a ghost that stole things that then proceeds not to?   It was just so inconsistent.    Which I suppose an insane house would be.   But still.

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R.I.P. VIII – Book 1

For my first Readers Imbibing Peril http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/r-eaders-i-mbibing-p-eril-viii book, I revisited Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a book I picked up the first time in junior high, I think, not my usual sort of thing at all, then or now.  A bad choice because I couldn’t stop reading it and was up until almost 4 finishing it.   Now I’ve started The Haunting of Hill House, but I’m not going to read it at bedtime.

Castle is exactly the sort of story I hate.  Small-minded, small town people tormenting others because they don’t fit in.  And yet, for some reason, I just kept on reading and I’d have to say, enjoyed it.   I had forgotten most of it.   This is the cover I remember:

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I sometimes have difficulty suspending my disbelief and the fact that they get no mail was a problem for me.   They seemed to have all their utilities running, but no means of paying for them.   Now, I realize we aren’t meant to take this story literally and I’m sure there are many other problems with what’s left of the family living as they do, but I think this bugs me because it would have been so easy to fix.  But if you can look past that, an eminently readable book.  Try not to lose too much sleep over it.