• July 2, 2019

Old School Wednesdays Readalong: Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson. Posted on October 29, Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smuggler feature. To readers in , Shirley Jackson’s second novel Hangsaman (reissued this year by Penguin with an introduction by Francine Prose) must. Hangsaman seems an account of trauma’s aftermath, of the shapes we implore the world to take so that the unpleasant or shocking can be.

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East Dane Designer Men’s Fashion. At the beginning of the book we see Natalie and her family. Natalie’s growing sense of displacement, paranoia, and loneliness eventually become our own. How to keep track of all the small, unrecorded moments that drag us down, at last, back into the mud? She could be walking around now if she had had an abortion, for instance.

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Sirley culminates in the violence of one long, tour de force sentence: No one is even there to listen should Natalie even learn to speak her experience.

She hits this sweet spot for me: A mother who is deeply depressed with life, a younger brother whom Natalie has little to do with and her “loving” father who basically has her write all of the time and has daily meetings with Natalie to show her what she is doing wrong and tell her how great he is at hanbsaman.

And turn all the men into chicks.

Wright in The Bird’s Nest. Right from the start it jangsaman clear Natalie has a vivid imagination; much like Eleanor from The Haunting Of Hill House, Natalie is someone whose propensity for daydreaming and fantasy seems alarmingly strong. Here, in Hangsaman, deeply imaginative Natalie Waite tries to shrug off an indifferent alcoholic mother, a domineering and arrogant father, and a completely indifferent brother, as well as a horrifying sexual assault, by rewriting herself in college.

Jul 22, Alex rated it it was amazing Shelves: Natalie doesn’t know who she is and the whole book follows her confusion and stifling self-consciousness and makes the reader identify with the uncomfortable uncertainty of being an adolescent.

Book Review: Hangsaman, by Shirley Jackson | Like Telling the Truth

In fact, I’ve walked down the very same woods road where Welden was last seen, and have hiked the now-defunct, rerouted section of the Long Trail to which she was supposedly en route at the time of her vanishing. Jackson leverages the strange, blended narrative persona to excellent effect right from the opening scenes.


Elizabeth drinks to much, and they are trying to have an affair with her husband. I stayed with this book longer than I might have if it wasn’t written by Shirley Jackson.

Withoutabox Submit to Film Festivals. There’s a problem loading this menu right now. Many of them have been terrific–in fact I see no correlation between gender and aesthetic literary quality at all–it’s only the bias of the established cannon and my trying to read all of the great books, I suppose, that’s unbalanced my reading by gender. When the school’s basketball coach found out I could play and how good I was apparently she was not happy.

View all 18 comments. To ask other readers questions about Hangsamanplease sign up. In the first part, Natalie lives with her egotistical father, self-depracating mother, and indifferent brother where they host a party and she is possibly sexually assualted, but Jackson provides no answers.

Her father is a domineering and egotistical writer who keeps a tight rein on Natalie and her long-suffering mother. Instead, Jackson gives the reader access to only the reverberations of the event. Get to Know Us.

That sounds like a pretty basic plot, but the book is largely an internal affair. Natalie draws the reader slowly and inexorably into her world, as seen through her eyes. But then, typical of Jackson’s writing, the reader finds herself mired in psychological horror that is only barely tolerable. As strange as I found Tony’s character, the final pages build into a chilling climax where Natalie’s journey far away from the college parallels her inner journey where she must face herself and confront her fears.

How and why is this so? The story is a simple one but the overtones are immediately present. PS I forgot to mention that Shirley Jackson is the greatest composer of sentences in the English language. It left me feeling uncomfortable. My cover does not look like this at all!

Loneliness descends on her like a pall while she struggles to find some place amongst her housemates. In some sense, it feels like Natalie’s future self the narrator?


Nathalie’s last words in the novel really a feeling rather than a statement might mean that, for a middle-class woman in the USA inadulthood meant coming to terms with one’s muteness.

So right now 18 of my last 21 books read have been by female authors. Even more strangely, the extended game that Natalie and Tony play is a one whose contours and rules are only barely visible to us as readers:.

A couple more things What it is is smut. I’m not always jazzed about reading from the POV of an unreliable narrator and Natalie in particular feels dangerous in her inability to distinguish real from unreal. She realizes that she has no friends, the other girls call her “Spooky” and you start to realize that what you are being told is not the whole truth as a reader.

And just the fact that zhirley forces you to continue to think about it after you’ve finished. Jackson is after the coping mechanisms that come to us in our adolescence, those that jacison to distance or protect us — and those that are so witheringly critical that they are generally blunted and stomped by experience. Francine Prose is the bestselling author of more than twenty books and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As we follow Natalie through her first few months of college life, the comedy persists until about two-thirds of the way through mostly thanks to hilarious letters sent to Natalie by her father when it is swallowed up entirely by a sense of coming doom.

Since this is such a short book it should not have taken me that long to finish it, but it did. The third and Finale part is beautifully quirked-out and inspired.

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