I’ve always sought out stories about families – by birth or by choice – over the years.
- The Chronicles of Narnia (paid link).
- The Baby-Sitters Club (paid link).
- The Fast and the Furious (paid link).
- I would even include Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark.
I’m talking about Shirley Jackson’s “Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings” (paid link).
I commiserated with her stories about her family and the goofy stuff they’d suffered together.
Even a situation as silly as who left the hose out.
I wondered why I gravitate towards stories about fictional families and not-so-fictional ones.
Is there a universal truth about being a part of a family?
Not that I don’t enjoy stories about orphans – though there is always a glut of those.
But I think it’s because everyone has a story to tell.
I didn’t have the idyllic family life that Ms. Jackson and her husband gave to their kids.
However, I won’t comment on the destruction of their marriage because that’s not what the book is about here.
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’Leo Tolstoy
I grew up in a military family.
There were long stretches where Dad was over there.
Wherever over there happened to be.
He couldn’t be there for my birth; he was on the ice in Antarctica.
What hits me like a ton of brick about this collection is that all families are the same.
No matter what your station.
You have the annoying older brother, girly-girl kid sister, the dog who slobbers on your things, and you also live in a creaky old house that moans and creaks during windy days.
I enjoyed this collection immensely.
The book gives you a peek into the mind of a brilliant writer.
The stories show her writing process in bits and pieces and how the bits and pieces of a mundane family life influenced her work that we know and love.