I read the most sinister short story last week: Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. So The London Review of Books started this feature, “Diverted Traffic,” at the outset of the pandemic. People who subscribe get a story delivered to their inbox that has nothing to do with the plague, or the depressing politics of 2020, or really anything that might appear in our social media feeds. Diverted Traffic is complete escapism. This week’s piece was an old review of Shirley Jackson’s short stories and novels, when the Library of Congress saw fit to corral them in one volume. The review is decent but the critic absolutely gushes about Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery.”
So I found a copy online.
I need to be careful here, because I worry I’ll expose my ignorance of certain female writers in the way I once did around Margaret Atwood, when I read The Handmaid’s Tale eight years ago and talked forever about it to women in the office. They were like, Duh. Who doesn’t know this? Oh, that’s right: men.
Nevertheless I proceed. “The Lottery” is amazing. Also a mundane story but good lord does it turn sinister. If you’re not a woman, or if you are but not — I don’t know — an English or Women’s Studies major and well-acquainted with Jackson’s work, set aside time for “The Lottery” this weekend. Elizabeth Moss starred in a Jackson biopic this year. I might watch it and report back what I find.