Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Book Review: Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation

by Tressa Fancher, Library Assistant III, Web Services, Central Library

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation
Miles Hyman

Shirley Jackson has been one of my favorite dark fiction writers ever since her classic short story "The Lottery" was assigned reading in 7th grade lit class and that ending caught my young self quite by surprise. And while there's not much new to say about it that hasn't already been said in scholarly articles and English essays it seems, I was psyched when I learned that it was being turned into a graphic novel by Jackson's grandson and couldn't wait to experience it in a new light.

For those who don't know the "most famous short story ever written," "The Lottery" was published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker magazine. It depicts a small, rural community that continues on with a traditional, brutal lottery that dates so far back, the origin is a mystery to some of its participants, as is evident when one of the oldest members vaguely remembers that there used to be a saying—"Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon."

Shirley Jackson was shocked at the hate mail she received for the story, and even her own mother chastised her for being one of those doom-and-gloom young people and why couldn't she write an uplifting story to cheer people up?
"The children assembled first, of course."

Miles Hyman's illustrations at times have an old-timey sepia tone that emphasizes the backward nature of a town holding steadfast to a we've-always-done-it-this-way tradition that neighboring towns have discontinued. The tension as the sun rises on June 27 is palpable in the behavior of the anxious and excited townsfolk as the elders dust off the box, the women finish household chores, and the children go searching for the weightiest rocks.

The book includes an interesting biographical preface by Hyman. Although he was only three when Jackson died, she left an impression on him with her big presence and the things she surrounded herself with in her Victorian home in Vermont, such as the stacks of books on the occult and ancient civilizations, and her gramophone and collection of jazz records. I loved reading about the cocktail parties Shirley and her husband threw for famous writers (she was once chased around the house by a drunk Dylan Thomas).

So glad to have this in my graphic novel collection!

Read the full short story "The Lottery" at Fullreads.com

Review of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle

If you're not into graphic novels because you associate them with superheroes—and you're not into those either—please rethink this because there are so many wonderful graphic novels you may enjoy that are biographical in nature or that deal with topical social issues. This list contains several such graphic novels that Birmingham Public Library staff have liked enough to post reviews about:

The Baby-Sitters Club
El Deafo
Fahrenheit 451
Fun Home
Mr. Wonderful
Solomon Kane

Anybody else excited about To Kill a Mockingbird being made into a graphic novel?

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