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Hangsaman

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  711 ratings  ·  97 reviews
HANGSAMAN is Miss Jackson's second novel. The story is a simple one but the overtones are immediately present. "Natalie Waite who was seventeen years old but who felt that she had been truly conscious only since she was about fifteen lived in an odd corner of a world of sound and sight, past the daily voices of her father and mother and their incomprehensible actions." In ...more
191 pages
Published 1976 (first published 1951)
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Moira Russell
PATHETICALLY EXCITED to have this on the Kindle, I have a tattered old paperback with this cover:





http://www.rockin-r.net/~karl/shirley...
J.
At first I wondered how complicated to get with this, because it isn't a simple story. But there isn't much you need to know, going in. A coming-of-ager but in the Bell Jar or Catcher In The Rye vein, author Shirley Jackson's quirky, truthful-feeling book hits home.

A sophisticated, naive ingénue narrates her abrupt path from daughter and child to "college woman", sometimes at a singing pitch of self-discovery, sometimes reading all the signs wrongly and foundering on the rocks. Can sophisticate
...more
Rob
I've loved several of Shirley Jackson's other books but this time the magic spell didn't work on me, and when a spell fails, one is left with little to do but gawk at the occult paraphernalia involved in its casting, which are bound to ultimately seem at once baffling and quaint.

Some of Jackson's other books are expertly engineered spell-casting machines, the parameters of every pentacle chosen for optimal potency, no sigil lacking even the smallest significant curlicue. This one is more of a Ru
...more
John Pappas
Hangsaman makes the case that it is an oversight of enormous proportions that the literary reputation of Shirley Jackson rests upon a handful of (albeit, perfectly constructed) short stories. One might hope that the 2013 Penguin reprints of her novels would correct this and help begin a critical re-evaluation of her work; certainly, one can see the roots of the critically acclaimed work of Russell, Van Den Berg, Bender and others in the mystery, humor and terror of Hangsaman. This novel, not Pla ...more
Stephen Curran
All the time while I was reading Hangsaman I was waiting to find out what kind of novel it is. Having read We Have Always Lived in the Castle and knowing a little of Shirley Jackson's reputation, I was expecting it turn to into a Gothic melodrama or a supernatural chiller, but even four fifths of the way through, it refused to take a shape I recognised.

The first part sees Natalie Waite suffering her family at home, the second sees her suffering the poisonous student/teacher relationships at her
...more
Aniko Carmean
I have never read anything like HANGSAMAN. It is chilling, hyper-surreal, and told with a mind-altering narrative voice. HANGSAMAN is like shooting a cocktail of vodka and meth: it's weird, burns like hell, and you don't come down from those fever dreams the same person you were before the experience.

The most amazing thing about HANGSAMAN is that, on the surface, nothing happens. A girl, Natalie, attends a dinner party where she is possibly assaulted, starts college, drinks a lot of martinis wi
...more
James
WTF!? OMG!? Ms. Jackson was one ballsy writer back in the 1950's. I cannot imagine what a typical reader from the era would have made of this loopy (pun intended), visceral, wacked-out novel. Split into three sections, the first part introduces us to the young protagonist Natalie about to leave for college. She also may have committed a murder - maybe, it's hard to tell, and never really brought up again. The second section is a bit more normal as she arrives at school and forms a friendship wit ...more
Steve
Hangsaman, for me at least, is one of those books that, after you finish reading, you have to look to an external source to tell you what the
hell you have just read. I'm still not sure. For awhile I wasn't even sure if one of the characters, Tony, was real.

It may not capture the reader to the extent that We have Always Lived in the Castle, but one cannot help but be drawn into Natalie's world
of paranoia. Shirley Jackson's characters are spellbinding even if their journeys are not always.

Lookin
...more
Whitney
Imagine if Henry James' Turn of the Screw met with Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. And turn all the men into chicks.
jacky
My favorite Shirley Jackson book because of its mysterious nature and character development. For me, Natalie Waite was very easy to relate to in many ways, until the appearance of Toni and the downward spiral. Definitely not as creepy or scary as The Haunting of Hill House, but a great read for the amount of detail and psychological suspense.

While I started my senior thesis reading The Haunting of Hill House, I eventually would up reading almost all of Shirley Jackson and settled on writing abo
...more
Alex V.
I think I loved this book despite not really quite understanding what happened in this book, what worlds the protagonist Natalie actually embodies and what ones are her imagination. Is she a ghost? Is everyone else? Or am I just trying to ascribe a supernatuality to a young woman's journey that is remarkably typical. It makes me think The Sixth Sense would have been so much better if the twist had never been revealed and in fact hidden completely.

The college freshwoman Natalie hears voices, has
...more
Sarah
Either nothing happens in this book...or I didn't understand this book.

Anyway, here's my tentative interpretation:
(view spoiler)

Alternative interpretation:
(view spoiler)
...more
Lobstergirl

Possibly I just don't enjoy books with teenage protagonists.

But I did like Mr. Waite's observation that the most "effete" thing you can put in a martini is a pearl onion.
Maureen
awful. i love shirley jackson but this was painful to get through. i forced myself to finish it. one wonders if it was simply published as a result of the success of the lottery and the sundial (both of which are referenced on the front and back copy of my edition), in that moment where an agent or editor flush with eagerness, and says, "you don't have anything else kicking around that we can publish now, do you?", and a writer unwisely unveils their first "great" unpublished novel, and is undon ...more
Meghan
I'm not sure I fully grasped the final third of the book. I think I had a basic grasp of what was happening in reality and what was happening in Natalie's head, but there's a possibility that I completely missed the mark as well. However, for as much as I might not have understood the book, I did enjoy it. I thought the character of Natalie, as well as her situation and struggles, were concepts I could relate to and understand or follow easily. The prose itself was pure poetry and simply reading ...more
Bridget
Apr 25, 2010 Bridget rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: S. jackson completists
There are so many Shirley Jackson books out there, so many more than I knew about initially.
I stayed with this book longer than I might have if it wasn't written by Shirley Jackson. I'm not always jazzed about reading from the POV of an unreliable narrator and Natalie in particular feels dangerous in her inability to distinguish real from unreal.

Overall, reading this book made me wish that she was alive and writing today where talking about unseemly topics wouldn't be quite so verboten- if it'
...more
Justin
This is one of the strangest books I've read, and despite its oddities and ambiguities, I enjoyed it. The plot itself isn't all that interesting, but Shirley Jackson pulls the reader into the depths of Natalie's mind and madness. In the first part, Natalie lives with her egotistical father, self-depracating mother, and indifferent brother where they host a party and she is possibly sexually assualted, but Jackson provides no answers. From the beginning, Natalie has a detective interrogating her ...more
Rob Rabiee
This is a novel about identity. Not identity in the facile way you're used to hearing it discussed in seminars and on Tumblr, but deep identity: the nagging, persistence sense that you carry a negation of yourself inside yourself. "Only one antagonist...only one enemy," as Natalie puts it during the novel's climax (212). Facing identity is Natalie's nightmare in the woods with Tony: she confronts the raw force of a fact of being.

Enough of that stuff. Things I'll never forget from this book: The
...more
Myles
The talented Natalie Waite is about to start her college career at the exclusive woman's school of her father's choice. Her father is a writer and professor and has been instructing Natalie in how to behave as an artist, dismiss her mother and remain under his influence. She is ready to escape, but her path isn't going to be easy. Highly sensitive, Natalie is ill-prepared for claustrophobic campus life and has nobody to confide in.

Hangsaman brings you into the consciousness of its main character
...more
Vicki
Even after finishing this book, I am not sure what to think about it. I always love Shirley Jackson, and while I enjoyed "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" more, I found this novel to be really interesting. I never quite knew where it was going, or what Natalie was going to do next, which I really liked. I have read a lot of books where I can guess what is going to happen after reading a quarter of it, and it was refreshing to have something that truly kept me guessing. The characterizations w ...more
Richard
If you are looking for horror in the contemporary sense, then you need to look elsewhere. It's amusing how the publishers of the early paperback (pulp) versions of this novel tried to make it look like simple suspense, and though it is suspenseful, it's not in the way most contemporary horror or mystery would be, and I'm sure many people were disappointed back in the day. This is a deeply strange, sadly ignored, work of genius, by a writer who, in the early fifties, was not afraid to write somet ...more
Carlos
When I first finished this novel, I was left with the feeling of, what the heck just happened? This was a combination of reading the last fifth or so, where the story takes an interesting turn, during a fit of insomnia, which helped contribute to the sense that the story had gone off the rails. However, in the couple of days since finishing it, the turn in the story has begun to seem less jarring and more haunting. (I wonder how many of the people who fired off angry letters to the New Yorker in ...more
Daisy
She brought herself away from the disagreeably clinging thought by her usual method --imagining the sweet sharp sensation of being burned alive-- and turned expectantly to her father.

"About how wonderful I am," Natalie said.

...the horror of feeling a reaction everyone else might feel...

Please forgive me if I say that I never expected you to be immune to ordinary impulses, although I expect equally that you will be receptive to extraordinary ones...
(maybe the nicest thing her father says)

"Are yo
...more
Amanda
Once again, haunting. Jackson knows how to take the dark corners for a young woman's mind and put them on the page in the most deliciously, haunting way. I hope colleges pull her out and teach her work.
Jimmy
Oh, what is this strange and wonderful book? How could I ever love it more?
Rosiehope
Clever, engaging, disturbing. If nothing else, proof that there were intelligent women writing in the 50s and the mid-century misogynists must have known they existed and maybe even met them. So there goes the historical relativism argument.
Renee
While I'd been expecting something paranormal and overtly frightening, instead, Hangsaman delivers a psychological, suspenseful, and still horrific novel. (I really need to read editors' blurbs better.) Hangsaman follows Natalie Wait as she descends or at least continues to live through insanity. One assumes that her skewed version of reality degenerates as the novel progresses (as it certainly becomes more difficult to follow her tenuous thought pattern). The supporting characters are all terri ...more
Sara Cat
4.5 stars. Excellent writing. College girl slowly snaps. The book feels like it falls into 3 parts - the writing in the first one is sublime - little details of character and place, evocative, creepy. Second sets up the third and seems to move along ok.

It is just all over very unusual so far, discomfiting in a good way. I could not pin down any genre to call it per se, nor even really any stylistic time period I could say it fits in - sort of has a gothic feel but also a modern one early 1960s o
...more
Frances Sawaya
Such a loss in that Jackson died well before her time! I ender what other bizarre and insights to human nature went with her on that night she died in her sleep!
The first impression I had was regarding her skill in showing character via dialogue/conversation. All it takes is a single word or phrase and BINGO! the point is made re a young girl's vanity to a father's arrogance or a mother's inadequacies. The chat when Natalie returns to her family for Thanksgiving all hinges on the use of the word
...more
Koltukname
We Have Always Lived in the Castle 'la gönlümüzde taht kurmuş olan Shirley Jackson'dan tüyler ürpertici bir başka şaheser. Amerikan edebiyatının klasiklerinden sayılan Jackson, korku edebiyatıyla tanınıyor. Burada korkudan anlaşılması gereken, psikolojik, hatta psikanalitik gerilim. Edebiyattan anlaşılması gereken ise, çok katmanlı cümleleri, müthiş gözlemleri ve unutulmayacak bir karakterle, has be has edebiyat. Başta ailenin ama zamanda üniversitenin de klostrofobik ortamı, ana karakterin yaln ...more
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Hangsaman: what happened? 3 16 Sep 30, 2014 12:44AM  
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Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

She is best known for her dystopian short story, "The Lottery" (1948), which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown Ameri
...more
More about Shirley Jackson...
The Lottery and Other Stories The Haunting of Hill House The Lottery We Have Always Lived in the Castle Life Among the Savages

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“Poor things, she thought - do they have to spend all this energy just to surround me? It seemed pitiful that these automatons should be created and wasted, never knowing more than a minor fragment of the pattern in which they were involved, to learn and follow through insensitively a tiny step in the great dance which was seen close up as the destruction of Natalie, and far off, as the end of the world.

They had all earned their deaths, Natalie thought, by a job well done - the woman in the seat ahead who had never needed a face, had perhaps been given for her part only the back of a head and a dark cloth coat collar, the man in the seat next to Natalie, a full-dress part, even to the watchchain and the grimy shirt collar - had not this same man, as a matter of fact, been close to Natalie in the station, memorising her face so that although when next they met she would not know him, he would be able to identify her, winking and gesturing with his head to the others, murmuring perhaps to the bus driver, 'That one, there.”
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“Perhaps tomorrow I shall pick up one of the houses, any one, and, holding it gently in one hand, pull it carefully apart with my other hand, with great delicacy taking the pieces of it off one after another: first the door and then, dislodging the slight nails with care, the right front corner of the house, board by board, and then, sweeping out the furniture inside, down the right wall of the house, removing it with care and not touching the second floor, which should remain intact even after the first floor is entirely gone. Then the stairs, step by step, and all this while the mannikins inside run screaming from each section of the house to a higher and a more concealed room, crushing one another and stumbling and pulling frantically, slamming doors behind them while my strong fingers pull each door softly off its hinges and pull the walls apart and lift out the windows intact and take out carefully the tiny beds and chairs; and finally they will be all together like seeds in a pomegranate, in one tiny room, hardly breathing, some of them fainting, some crying, and all wedged in together looking in the direction from which I am coming, and then, when I take the door off with sure careful fingers, there they all will be, packed inside and crushed back against the wall, and I shall eat the room in one mouthful, chewing ruthlessly on the boards and the small sweet bones.” 2 likes
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