I’ve always sought out stories about families – by birth or by choice – over the years.
- The Chronicles of Narnia.
- The Baby-Sitters Club.
- The Fast and the Furious.
- 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.” I found myself commiserating with her stories about her family and the goofy stuff they’ve had to suffer through together.
Even something as silly as who left the hose out.
I got to thinking 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 like Ms. Jackson and her husband gave to their kids. I won’t comment on the destruction of their marriage, because that’s not what the book is about.
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 Antartica.
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 happen to also live in a creaky old house that moans and creaks during windy days.
I enjoyed this collection immensely. It gives you a peek into the mind of a brilliant writer. It shows her writing process in bits and pieces and how the bits and pieces of a mundane family life influenced the work of hers that we know and love.