Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and purchase a copy of Shirley Jackson’s posthumously published short story collection Come Along With Me. If you have read anything by Shirley Jackson before, you know this has got to be good. If you have never read anything by Shirley Jackson, what are you waiting for?
I, like most of the world, was introduced to Shirley Jackson through reading her short story, The Lottery, in high school. It wasn’t until years later when I picked up her books about raising her children that I realized what a wonderful writer she was. After reading Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages I moved on to We Have Always Lived in the Castle and fell madly in love.
Come Along with Me is the name of her incomplete novel which is about a woman who escapes from her past reinvents herself.
The rest of the book has something for everyone: Humor (Pajama Party and The Night we all had Grippe); Mystery (A Visit and The Bus); Suspense (The Little House); Drama (The Summer People and The Rock); and Non-fiction (Three Lectures: Experience and Fiction, Biography of a Story, and Notes for a Young Writer).
At some point, I must make time to read all her novels. Maybe after this Read-a-Shelf thing is over.
Statistics: Stats: 243 pages (paperback). Started October 2016, finished May 23, 2017.
No clue what age. Grade school. (I hope).
The Littlest Dancer
Once there was a girl at the age of five. She wanted to be a ballet dancer more than anything else in the whole world but her mother and father were much too poor to let her take dancing lessons.
Amy, which was her name, stomped down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Amy thought she could watch T.V. and learn ballet that way so she turned it on and her father came in and turned it off and said, “That is enough of your playing with the T.V. set.”
When bedtime came, Amy went upstairs and got dressed but she did not go right to sleep. Instead, she lay awake thinking.
The next morning she said, “Please let me go to dancing lessons. Please!”
“NO! You know we don’t have enough money to spend on silly old ballet classes.”
“But…” Her mother stopped her in the middle of the sentence.
“NO! NO! NO!” her mother said.
So that night she ran away. Her mother was terrified. She fainted so her husband woke her up and comforted her. They called the missing persons department.
“My child is gone. Can you find her? She has brown hair and wants to learn ballet very much. Can you help us find her?” said her father.
“Yes we know just the place to look, ballet school,” said the missing persons police officer.
So they looked there and she was there. They took her home and paid the people and Amy got to go to ballet school and when she was all done she came home with a lot of money and you might see her someday doing ballet.
Probably 6th grade again.
My First Hour (this morning)
I opened my eyes and recalled my dream I had the night before. Then my dad walked in my room to see if I was awake or not. I pretended I was asleep (although he always seems to know I am really awake).
He told me to get up. I did not stir. Then my mom walked through the door (she thought I was still asleep) and said, “GET UP!” I got up and went into the kitchen. I still was in my PJs because when my dad leaves for work he always lights his pipe and I hate the smell of it, especially when I am eating. But my mom told me to get dressed before I ate. So I hurried up and got dressed so I wouldn’t have to smell any of my dad’s pipe when I was eating. I put on a blue plaid skirt but I couldn’t decide what blouse to wear so I decided on the short sleeve one and a sweater.
I made it out to eat just before my dad finished eating so I didn’t have to smell his pipe after all.
I had Rice Krispies with my brother. He talked about his worms all during breakfast. That turned my stomach.
After all that I went in and brushed my teeth and my retainer and washed my face with Noxema. My dad made a smart remark about the smell.
When I left I forgot my shorts and shirt so I had to go back and get them.
Probably 6th grade again. The prompt must have been something about using color.
Ho! Ho! Ho! I see my sophisticated horse [is] as lazy as ever. There’s the red snail in his shell. The blue moon. The orange moon and the violet moon off in the yellow sunset. If you look closely you can see a lopsided champagne glass. The snail just pushed his triangle head out of his shell.
The teacher wrote “Good” on the paper. I am curious what was good about this writing.
These were probably written in 1969. I was in 6th grade. The second of these haiku poems I used for years whenever I had to write one. I always got a passing grade.
In the early spring
The birds sing so merrily.
I hate to leave them.
Flowers bloom and wilt.
Snow falls down and melts away.
Life begins and ends.
We must have been assigned to make a picture out of words. Yeah, not a poet…
The Cheshire Cat
I speak to my Cheshire cat,
In a tone that pleases him.
If he smiles ’til the clock strikes nine
I feed him liver which is fine.
This is from 6th grade. Miss Woiwode was our student teacher. I’ve written about her famous brother before.
I was thinking as I walked to school at 11:45 that it probably would rain today. It did. I was waiting for Eugenia inside the school building. Here she came up the walk. I ran out to meet her. I yelled, “Eugenia dumb dumb!” So Miss Woiwode had changed her mind. Eugenia and I were supposed to to to the lunchroom but Eugenia kept on saying, “I don’t know a living soul in here.” So Eugenia and I weren’t in the rain at all.
That made very little sense to me. I must have left something out!
This was written when I was in 6th grade. I am thinking we were studying how to write newspaper articles.
“Wednesday, February 5th was the day for picking countries in social studies,” said Mrs. Anderson, sixth-grade teacher at Highland School. “The boys and girls will each give a report on a country in Europe and tell about their country, the climate, geography, costumes, and people. Each report will take place when they come along int he social studies book,” continued Mrs. Anderson, “The purpose of the reports is for the children to get accounted to the countries for upper grades.
Some children wanted the same countries, so Mrs. Anderson let one have the northern half and the other have the southern half.
This paper has no date but it does have directions for how to write a cinquain:
- One word title (names the topic)
- Two words describing the title (defines or describes)
- Three words describing actions (expresses action)
- Four words expressing feelings (expressions of personal attitude)
- Another word for the title (synonym for topic)
I wrote two but didn’t finish the first:
Softly flying landing
Playing, working, having fun
Yeah, I’m pretty much a failure at cinquains.
This has no date but it does have an illustration. While there was some creative license taken, the bit about talking to my reflection is true, but that was a different mirror.
A Mirror on my Dresser
The old mirror on my dresser is a shadowbox. I talk to my reflection whenever I am alone in the house. Sometimes my reflection and I get upset with one another because we are always trying to say the same things at the same time. We gave up saying “jinks, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten you owe me a bottle of pop” whenever we say the same thing because, as I told you earlier, we always say the same thing at the same time and we always end up leaving angry as we owe each other 22,500 bottles of pop so far.
The mirror itself does not talk too much, except to the wall when the wall complains about the mirror being too heavy, or it talks to the dresser, warning it to watch out below because it feels its screws getting loose. Sometimes it gossips to the floor or the door about things happening around the room, as it can’t see or hear farther than the door.
There are shelves on the mirror and I have nicknacks all over it. Here is a picture of it:
Here is a real picture of part of it: