Raising Demons

Raising Demons - Shirley Jackson

After trying to put away some of her children's toys and finding nowhere to put them without displacing something else, our narrator (an idealized Shirley Jackson) realizes the family needs a new house. Just like 'Life Among the Savages', the surface of the book is wry and warm, but there are tremors under the surface. The children keep saying cryptic things, appearances are hard to maintain, and people are always watching, and our narrator can't help pointing out the inequities of her times. The children, too, are getting older and their personalities are gelling, leading to more complicated problems with their social lives and extra burdens their mother must accommodate. All of this is mined wonderfully for humor.

Moving to a new house, a crooked gatepost, a family vacation, a school play, a new pet, the forming of a little league, a contested car accident...there is no real plot and it could have started or ended at any point in the book, but through the little snapshots you get a good picture of the family. Jackson may not have been altogether happy in her home life, reports may have been exaggerated, it doesn't matter so much as she knew how to transform herself and her husband and her children into the image of an acceptably dysfunctional family and endearingly frustrating to each other.

This was designed to appeal to the readers of the women's magazines she sold the stories to, but the humor still feels fresh, and you'll laugh all the way through. It helps if you've lived in a small town. I also enjoyed the cat on the cover.


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