Monday, December 5, 2016

Life Among the Savages

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"Our house is old, and noisy, and full.  When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books; we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks.  This is the way of life my husband and I have fallen into, inadvertently, as though we had fallen into a well and decided that since there was no way out we might as well stay there and set up a chair and a desk and a light of some kind; even though this is our way of life, and the only one we know, it is occasionally bewildering, and perhaps even inexplicable to the sort of person who does not have that swift, accurate conviction that he is going to step on a broken celluloid doll in the dark.  I cannot think of a preferable way of life, except one without children and without books, going on soundlessly in an apartment hotel where they do the cleaning for you and send up your meals and all you have to do is lie on a couch and--as I say, I cannot think of a preferable way of life, but then I have had to make a good many compromises, all told."

So goes the first paragraph of my favorite book of 2016. I read a piece in the Review section of the Wall Street Journal on a new book about the life of Shirley Jackson whom I remembered only as the woman who wrote that creepy short story, The Lottery, that we all read in high school.  Apparently she wrote a lot of other fairly dark stories, but she also wrote a lot of fairly hilarious stories about her actual life as a mom, which is what Life Among the Savages is.  It reads as a precursor to the modern day mom blog and she even dedicated it to "[her] children's grandparents" whom my own mom blog is, if not actually dedicated to, are nonetheless my target audience.  I've found that reading stories of other mothers, especially from different eras, managing shenanigans very similar to those of my own children gives a nice perspective to my days and reminds me of the fact that while motherhood is often an exasperating endeavor,  it's always easier to face up to it when you have a sense of humor firmly in place.    

I suppose what I'm saying is that I would love to sit down for coffee with this woman and swap stories about our children's antics.  Not that we'd be able to hear each other over the din.   Also I'm seriously considering changing the name of my blog to just Life Among the Savages in an homage to her.  It sums up my life nicely and unlike my current blog name, has only words that everyone can pronounce.

I desperately want to read the sequel, Raising Demons, but my failure of a library doesn't have it.  I did check out Let Me Tell You though, which is a compilation of her short stories and has a whole section on motherhood in general.  It didn't disappoint.  And while I don't like to read scary or disturbing things as a rule, I did pick up her book, We Have Always Lived in the Castle which was also very good.  Not scary-disturbing, but creepy-it-kind-of-sticks-with-you-disturbing.  

I know you all love my sporadic and oh so professional book reviews and advice, so if you are a mom and also in need of a good laugh--which as a mom you probably are--get thee to a library and find some Shirley Jackson, you won't regret it.

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