Monday, October 25, 2004

Haven't updated the blog with my usual gloating over books purchases for a long time... But anyway, I found this very interesting book at a book sale the other day: Life Among the Savages, by Shirley Jackson. Its an Erma Bombeck-style account of raising a family of too-bright-for-their-own-good kids, written in the 60s, with loads of hilarious moments. The catch? Shirley Jackson is better known for her spine chilling horror stories, The Haunting of Hill House being the most well known of them.
It's possible to see some of the inspirations for Hill House in this book: the strange behaviour of doors in old houses, the strangeness of passageways and staircases, chilling pronouncements (although they aren't quite as chilling when it's her own kids that make them).
Perhaps because horror requires a good knowledge of the human psyche, the best writers in that genre are excellent at evoking day-to-day moods too. Some of Stephen King's best passages are about his own childhood. Robert McCammon wrote an entire book about being a kid. Ray Bradbury (though he's written scary-style stories, I wouldn't call him a horror writer proper) is the best I've seen at reminding us of how childhood feels. Ah well.

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