Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson

Private Demons The Life of Shirley Jackson None

  • Title: Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson
  • Author: Judy Oppenheimer
  • ISBN: 9780449904053
  • Page: 355
  • Format: Paperback
  • None

    One thought on “Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson”

    1. Advice to women, 1933:Keep young and beautifulIt's your duty to be beautifulKeep young and beautifulIf you want to be loved, dah-dah-dah-dahDon't fail to do your stuffWith a little powder and a puffKeep young and beautifulIf you want to be lovedIf you're wise, exercise all the fat offTake it off, off of here, off of thereWhen you're seen anywhere with your hat offHave a permanent wave in your hairTake care of all those charmsAnd you'll always be in someone's armsKeep young and beautifulIf you wa [...]

    2. An amazing and tragic woman who led an amazing and tragic life. I have become a huge fan of Shirley Jackson, so much so, that I decided to read this, her only biography, and I am happy to say I was so not disappointed. A philandering husband with a complacent if not accepting wife, witchcraft, voodoo, frequent and lively drunken parties, prescribed amphetamine and tranquilizer abuse, an overbearing and disapproving mother, weekend front-yard ballgames with J.D. Salinger and Ralph Ellison, a haun [...]

    3. Interesting for fans of Jackson, but I'll look forward to the new biography this fall and hope that it's more insightful. Oppenheimer's style is oddly gossipy and judgmental, hammering on the fact that Shirley was unattractive, and the text meticulously tracks her weight gains and losses through different parts of her life. We're left in no doubt that she was "dumpy," "ugly," and a poor housekeeper, and that these things are major flaws. It takes a conscious effort when reading to at least parti [...]

    4. I found this a moving, fluent account of writer Shirley Jackson's life. I've always been interested to understand the intersection of her life and her fiction. What I got was a sense of her feeling like an outsider in small town, 1950s Bennington and as an "academic wife." I loved the description of her walking back up to her house from a day shopping with one of her small children, composing "The Lottery." I also found moving her struggles with mental illness which she eventually combatted with [...]

    5. i don't read a lot of biographies because i don't give a shit about most people, but shirley jackson is unequivocally my favorite author and i want to know everything there is to know about her. this is a fairly well-rounded picture of her life, from her birth until death, her family, and her major and minor works. i wish there was more in depth information about some of her books & stories but unfortunately i guess that doesn't quite exist.

    6. I really enjoyed this book. Even if one hasn't read her work, I think anyone interested in reading about writers or anyone who is empathetic with those that are struggling with demons, feel like an outsider, or are trying to get out from under a highly critical mother will find this interesting. I highly recommend it for those who have read her work as it explains a lot. Reading the description of the San Franciso suburb where Jackson was an adolescent you know before you are told that this is t [...]

    7. I find this book fascinating, and Shirley Jackson's life is fascinating.However, there is fat-shaming on nearly every page. There should be a balance between describing Shirley's own reactions to her weight, when it is relevant, and the reactions of everyone else in the world. The book even describes that strangers were horrified at her appearance, because it isn't what they imagined an author should look like!

    8. Private Demons is a well balanced biography of Shirley Jackson.Shirley Jackson was a very gifted writer.As a child she was domineered by her mother,who saw a Victorian style of life, ideal for her daughter and this attitude of hers towards Shirley was continued for the rest of Shirley's life.Through letters she send Shirley ,she tried to impose her ideas and criticized her constantly over her obesity and other aspects of her life. Then it was her husband Stanley Hyman,the literary critic,who "wa [...]

    9. A biography of Shirley Jackson (1916-65), the author of "The Lottery" and The Haunting of Hill House.The lives of authors aren't always that interesting, but Private Demons was definitely interesting, and Shirley Jackson's life was definitely not what I expected. Shirley Jackson is best known for writing "The Lottery," one of the most mystifying and anthologized American short stories, and The Haunting of Hill House, as well as other novels. Private Demons is a well written and quick reading bio [...]

    10. This feels like such a complete work that I'm rather surprised there is a new biography of Shirley Jackson in the works, though Ruth Franklin (the new biographer) states in a 2014 interview with Biographile that there was a lot of archival material Oppenheimer didn't have access to. I am DEFINITELY looking forward to Franklin's biography. In the meantime, as I said, Oppenheimer's book feels pretty thorough; it does lean quite heavily on interviews with her children, which I don't know how unbias [...]

    11. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, has been my favourite book since I read it about two years ago, and knowing very little of its author, Shirley Jackson, I picked up this biography knowing that I was already interested in finding out more about her. That still doesn't mean that I would like Private Demons, but I did. Comprehensive and well written, I was hooked from beginning to end. Although everyone raves about The Lottery, or at least they did when it was released, I think this is in part b [...]

    12. This was a wonderful biography, satisfying in all ways. I've been reading lots of Shirley Jackson in the last year or so and have enjoyed all of it, if "enjoyed" is the right word. She writes about disturbing and disturbed people in such ordinary settings that I am always a bit off center for weeks after I finish a novel. This biography helps explain her dark mind, and it gives a very intimate look into her marriage and childhood. It felt almost voyeuristic, which I guess is the point of a biogr [...]

    13. Shirley Jackson has always been a favorite author, so I thought I'd check out her autobiography. I'm pretty sure this is the only one out there, so definitely worth the read for Jackson fans. While a very good read, with photos of Jackson and her family, there's something about Oppenheimer's writing style I didn't like. And I can't even explain what it was. As far as biographies go, this is a good one, just not one of the best. It does give a great peak into the life and mind of Jackson, drawing [...]

    14. A well-researched biography, from the 1980s, about one of my favorite authors. I learned a great deal, and it led me to buy a few Jackson short stories I didn't yet have. I'd love to know more about what her children are doing now, though, as when they're left here, they still seem to be figuring things out.Anyway, this book is the perfect antidote to the horrible fictionalized suspense novel that was written about Shirley Jackson a year or so ago. I was going to mention it by name, but it doesn [...]

    15. I enjoy reading an author's work, a memoir or autobiography (I read and discussed a bunch of Shirley Jackson's short stories recently and 'Life Among the Savages'), then a biography to help me understand it all better and I found Oppenheimer's biography illuminating. I'm looking forward to reading a book of criticism and essays on Jackson's work next, then more of her stories.

    16. Brilliant. The author completely brings you into the mind, life, and works of Shirley Jackson, possessor of one if the most amazing minds the world has ever known, if anyone can be said to have truly known it.

    17. In many ways Shirley Jackson’s life was blessed, in many ways cursed. Her extraordinary talent untouched by academe, encouraged by a smitten husband, Shirley had the support most women lack. There is a symmetry to it, a childhood of not fitting in, an adulthood of finding her place among the literati. True, her husband, Stanley, expected her to be the charwoman around the house and raise the children with only an occasional nod from his chair where great thoughts were being nourished. A critic [...]

    18. Not too bad, but definitely not in my top list of biographies. Why should we care if Shirley Jackson bakes casseroles ? And why oh why does the author feel the need to remind us every two pages that Jackson was ugly ? I don't give a shit if you thought she was ugly Judy. She was one of the most brilliant author of the 20th century. Pull yourself together.However not too bad if you want to learn more about Jackson, and if you're willing to skip a few pages.

    19. Excellent explanation if you are a fan, but always wondered how the person who wrote "Life among the savages" could be the exact same person who wrote "The Lottery". Her life was splintered, and she existed in several silos at the same time.

    20. Bizarre, frenzied, unyielding, biting, caring, passionate, imaginative. Shirley Jackson was all of these and even more. She was a robust woman with a dominating energy and an unparalleled mind that enraptured those who admired her and those who loathed her -- those who could not understand her make-up and or blunt and sometimes subtle eccentricities that made her churn out astonishing classical works in the genera of supernatural and reality based horror, i.e. "The Lottery," "The Haunting of Hil [...]

    21. After recently reading Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings, I went searching for more Shirley Jackson. Fortunately, I found this out-of-print biography of her in my local library, and I stretched out the reading of it over many nights. On the final night, I felt sad and deserted when I reached the last page; possibly feelings Ms. Jackson herself would have felt about a book she loved, or a book she had just finished writing.Shirley Jackson was indeed a complex, multiple-pers [...]

    22. Another reviewer mentioned that this book has a "brash, gossipy style I associate with the 1970s and 1980s," and I have to agree with that. A few others mentioned that the author says some pretty harsh things about Shirley's weight, throughout the book, and I also found that startling, unprofessional (the author was a journalist, according to the information in the book), and only marginally related to the topic at hand--it seems that Shirley didn't love being overweight but that people outside [...]

    23. This is a well-written and well-researched book and it is technically easy to readbut if you're a fan of Ms. Jackson's work it could be a painful journey. When one is affected by a work of art (for example, classic books written by a tremendously talented author whose creative output has changed many people's lives) there is often a temptation to know "more." This leads to people (myself included) looking up movie locations, or places where Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll resided, or journeys [...]

    24. Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite authors, and since I've read just about everything that she had ever published, this biography was the next thing I had to read. Having just finished Raising Demons before this, it was really interesting to juxtapose that (somewhat) fictional portrait of family life with what her actual family and friends said. In both, Stanley doesn't come off as a particularly involved father and in Private Demons he comes off even worse. Then again, he wasn't alive to giv [...]

    25. While the book is informative and I enjoyed it overall, I was disappointed that the biographer spent, in my opinion, very little time on the genesis of "The Lottery" and The Haunting of Hill House among Jackson's other works. After all, that's why we know the name Shirley Jackson. Though I will say Shirley Jackson's "private demons" were well documented as the title notes: from her alcoholism, to her struggles with weight, to her alienation from the community in which she lived. The book does cr [...]

    26. Oppenheimer has such a breathless, tabloid-y style, especially as she does a little tut-tutting of things like Jackson's personal appearance and her methods of housekeeping—even as she seems to distance herself from judgement, you can tell she was trying to stir up something. This made so much of Shirley Jackson's chosen themes and neuroses more visible in her short stories, and makes clear sense of where her mind was with her longer novels. That said, I can't wait for Ruth Franklin's upcoming [...]

    27. Excellent biography of an author I'm currently obsessed with. Oppenheimer draws a sympathetic picture of Jackson's life through excerpts from her letters and journals and through interviews with her friends and family. In fact, I wish she had relied less on those interviews, since memory can be so faulty and biased sometimes, but I can't imagine how hard it must be to piece together someone's life through their work and glimpses of themselves left behind. Still, an excellent book supplying plent [...]

    28. Not only is this biography engaging and interesting, but it's very well written. A peek into the abnormal and gritty reality of an author famous for both her eerie occult books and conversely, her short advice stories in parenting magazines. Despite the cutesy parenting stories, Jackson's real home life and family were anything but picturesque. I enjoyed and highly recommend this book for some darker reading.

    29. A very readable and engaging biography of a complex author. After turning the final page, I was unable to re-read my childhood favorites by S. Jackson: Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. The truth of her life was so conflicted and sad that it has temporarily unabled me to read her lighthearted semi-autobiographical accounts of family life. Maybe later

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