Not mine--Shirley Jackson's. This is the title of Ruth Franklin's award-winning biography of Jackson.
Preparing for the Jackson tribute panel at Readercon, I'm finally reading this much-praised tome.
How many awards has it won? This might not be the complete list:
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography
Winner of the Edgar Award in Critical/Biographical
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction
A New York Times Notable Book of 2016
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Pick of 2016
How much-praised? Here's a few:
“With this welcome new biography Franklin makes a thoughtful and persuasive case for Jackson as a serious and accomplished literary artist. . . . [Franklin] sees Jackson not as an oddball, one-off writer of horror tales and ghost stories but as someone belonging to the great tradition of Hawthorne, Poe and James, writers preoccupied, as she was, with inner evil in the human soul.”
- Charles McGrath, New York Times Book Review
“Ruth Franklin’s sympathetic and masterful biography both uncovers Jackson’s secret and haunting life and repositions her as a major artist whose fiction so uncannily channeled women’s nightmares and contradictions that it is ‘nothing less than the secret history of American women of her era.’”
- Elaine Showalter, Washington Post
A third review, from the Chicago Tribune, was attributed to Katherine A. Powers, whose near-Googleganger Katherine Ann Power was the most (in)famous member of the Brandeis class of 1971. The critic lives in Cambridge and is about the same age as the former student radical, bank robber, and most-wanted fugitive, who also lives somewhere in the Boston area, according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Ann_Power
Ah well, life is all connected, though these ruminations are not.
Back to Ruth Franklin's Shirley Jackson.
I've not quite finished it, though I've skimmed it and examined the index.
There's no entry for Gothic or New England Gothic.
There's no mention of the Shirley Jackson Awards http://www.shirleyjacksonawards.org/
And the introduction makes me ache watching the author perform the maneuver so praised by the first reviewer above, proving that Jackson was a "serious and accomplished literary artist" not BECAUSE of her American Gothic vision but DESPITE working in the despised genres.
Even so, this biography gives much more representation to Jackson's interest in myth, ritual, witchcraft, and the fantastic. Unlike the earlier more Freudian bio Private Demons, Franklin does not condescend to Jackson's beliefs or belittle anything she writes. Franklin mentions Jackson's appreciation of Tolkien and the Oz books (though not of her love of Weird Tales and Lovecraft, something that I learned from her daughter Sadie). Still, she several times mentions her dismay that the Times' obituary headline read "Shirley Jackson, Author of Horror Classic, Dies." Oh Horrors! The H-word!
Another divagation: the obituary states that "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," published in 1962 by Viking Press, is being adapted for the Broadway stage." I didn't know this, so I checked to see whether this ever happened. It did. According to the Internet Broadway Database, the production was a major flop, opening and closing in 9 performances in October, 1966. The set and lighting designer, however, was David Hays, who soon left Broadway and helped found the National Theater of the Deaf. Living still in Chester, CT, he is a pillar of CBSRZ, the liberal congregation (in many senses) whose synagogue was designed by another member, the late Sol Lewitt.
It's all connected.