26 thoughts on “Review: The Bird’s Nest, Shirley Jackson

    • Oh my God, I am so so obsessed with that show. I am heartbroken that the second season is about to end, and it’s not even officially picked up for the third. I need them to officially pick it up already!

  1. I would like to echo your cry to Rowling. In my household, we do classify everything according to Harry Potter. What was it this morning at breakfast? Something about AP tests being like OWLs, maybe.

  2. I seem to remember reading that many of her stories have semi-autobiographical elements, and that she was definitely thought to be semi-crazy. So I wonder how much of that is true with this book…

    • I shouldn’t think very much of it. I can imagine the biographical elements being true (although I don’t know that they were), but not the split personalities. I’ve never heard anything like that about her. But I’d be interested to know more about her life.

  3. I’ve been reading the kidlit Ranger’s Apprentice books with my sixth grader, and in the latest one the warrior type spends an afternoon attempting to compose a limerick about the Castle of Macindaw.

    I whipped one out in under a minute, leaving me feeling extremely chuffed.

  4. It’s frustrating when things like this happen with authors you love. Sorry this one didn’t work out for you but I am glad to hear The Sundial is worthy. That’s on my list of Jackson novels.

    • I hope you can find it! My old library never had it, and my new library has only one copy. But The Sundial, though not Jackson’s best, is very funny indeed, and worth reading just for that.

  5. I haven’t read The Bird’s Nest in years, but I remember being oddly fascinated by it as a child. I think I was aware, though, that it wasn’t necessarily a good book, and that what was fascinating me wasn’t necessarily the writing but rather the weird voyeurism that comes with multiple personality/ hypnotism/ psychoanalysis stories. Still, I found it pretty effectively creepy, what with those weird repeated phrases – “mud up to the neck,” “down the stairs and down the stairs and down the stairs,” and the delayed reveal of Bess.

    • I thought there were moments where the atmosphere was perfect, but they were outnumbered by moments of near-incomprehensibility. I hated the sort of stream-of-consciousness stuff, and it detracted from my pleasure of the book as a whole.

  6. I want JK Rowling to write something else, too! I feel stories about James and Lily at school would be glorious. Or, er, something *not* related to Harry Potter-verse might work, too. Or just anything. I want more, too.

    That said, I want a lot more of many authors, though, not just her. I am currently eating up Gail Collins’ non-fiction. Have you read her?

    I think we should read a book together when I’m in NYC and then meet very regularly to discuss it 🙂

    • I would totally love to have stories about James and Lily at school, or even just one story — one story, dammit! — to see James and Lily liking each other. We never got to see them love each other and I want to! But anything would be great.

      I haven’t read Gail Collins but I want to now, and I am so very in favor of your joint book-reading plan in the city. 😀

      • Hahaha, Gail Collins wrote a hilarious column this week about Newt Gingrich’s oeuvre, especially the book he wrote with his daughter, subtitled “From My Family To Yours.” *can’t stop laughing at this concept*

  7. Oooh, have you read Shirley Jackson’s two memoirs, Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages? Those are BLISSFUL. Highly recommended.

    • Yes! I have them in one volume, and I read most of the first one last year before drifting away from it. I will go back though, because I thought the stories were charming.

  8. For me, the best Shirley Jackson books are her autobiographical accounts of her life with her children– Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. I love these books with a passion!

  9. For some reason, this book sounds interesting to me, but I do admit that it could possibly be very, very bad if not handled properly, which is what I think you are saying is the case. I’m sorry that you didn’t end up liking this one, and I am just going to have to take your advice and pass on it.

  10. 😦 Oh noes. I am sad this one was not good! I look for Jackson books every time I go to used books stores, but they are so elusive! I need to hire a private eye.

    Also, the story reminds me a bit of The Three Faces of Eve. Great movie.

    • It wasn’t terrible, but….yeah, it wasn’t good. I wish now I’d found The Sundial instead — I’ve read it already and I know I’ll want to read it again. But I may never want to read The Bird’s Nest again.

  11. I really must read Shirley Jackson. I am so intrigued by the fact that she was a very ill person troubled by a series of psychotic episodes, and yet wrote those hilarious memoirs about raising her family. The dark stuff, yup, follows, but to be that funny.. how did she do it?

  12. I want JK to write a thing that’s similar to but not exactly Harry Potter, only this time it’s got a female protagonist and doesn’t suffer from too much capslock and my favorite characters won’t die and, best of all! it inspires a whole other generation of kids to be awesome.

    Actually I guess what I want is for JK to be more like Diana Wynne Jones.

  13. Has it really been four years? Wow. I can hardly believe it. Those books mean so much to me. I was thinking it was about time for a re-read. Maybe a summer project.

    Say, I read The Haunting of Hill House and didn’t care for it. I starting We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but never finished it. Would I like it even if I didn’t like Hill House?

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