Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.

Boat alone. The Tasman National Park, Tasmania. October 2013.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson: This is a dark little book that – like a lot of Shirley Jackson’s work – explores the idea of persecution of people who are ‘different’. It is a tricky read full of strangeness and goings on where the moral lines are not clear and the narrator clearly unreliable and quite a bit unstable. Despite a multiplying sense of unease and malevolence, the book also explores concepts of love and devotion. Immensely macabre elements are treated as unremarkable; the sense of agoraphobia is virtually unrelenting. Yet the language is deceptively simple, and the almost dreamlike ‘otherness’ both real and imagined. Together, social class and actions in the past divide the family at the centre of the book and the narrow-minded townsfolk, but just how strange and different the sisters are is beyond them.

Of course, we the reader have an insight that they do not, and the type of horror generated is one that exemplifies wonderful storytelling. Something terrible has happened in the past, and something terrible happens in the narrative, and the reader is not given firm footing to determine who is worthy of our compassion or condemnation. In this way, the framing of the story and progression of the narrative is masterful. It’s the best kind of fairy-tale, both horrible and lovely at the one time. I really enjoyed it.

Rugged coastline. The Tasman National Park, Tasmania. October 2013.

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