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The Lottery and Other Stories

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  38,697 ratings  ·  828 reviews
The Lottery, one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker. "Power and haunting," and "nights of unrest" were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson's lifetime, unites "The Lottery:" with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demons...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published March 16th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1948)
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Emily May
Recently, I've read a number of short stories with the intention of cutting down my huge reading pile and I've been largely disappointed. Particularly by common favourites like Edgar Allan Poe and his many famous horror tales - I was surprised to find them rather lacking.

The Lottery, however, is one of the best short stories I've read. It's very rare that I would give five stars to a short story because I reserve the top rating for meaty, well-rounded, often complex and/or clever novels, so a fo...more
The Lottery is one of my favorite short stories. It is so twisted, like The Crucible, I think it is a great commentary on how groups of people are infinitely more dangerous than individuals because mass hysteria, dogmatic thinking, and a lack of personal responsibility prevents anyone from speaking out against atrocities.
January 2009

I picked this up last year to read "The Lottery," (more on that below) and I was so impressed I couldn't justify reading the rest of the collection for free. Scouted around for a few months, bought a nice copy, finally got around to reading it, and here we are.

The Lottery and Other Stories is an unusual and slightly unsettling collection of stories (Including the title story and twenty-four others), many dealing with strange victories and defeats, wise children and stupid adults, nor...more
Read this book for one reaction: gasping "whaaaaaat!" or perhaps "whaaaaat?" (punctuation varies) after reading the final sentence of every story.

Shirley Jackson is the indisputable master of the "whaaaaaat!/?" Some stories end ambiguously, leaving you scrambling back through the pages searching for a clue or alternately racing to open Google to read others' wise analyses. Other stories end completely and absolutely unambiguously, leaving you to question not what actually happened but to wonder...more
Sep 23, 2009 Caris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
You know, you'd think that knowing the end would make the rest of it easier to swallow. You'd think the shock factor would be taken down at least three notches. At least.

Instead, knowing what was going to happen made the mundane opening details even more awful. Even more disturbing. This story leaves me with this disgusted feeling inside. I'm bothered that I'm bothered by it and I'm having a hard time fathoming that this sort of thing has actually happened. Perhaps not in this specific way (or m...more
Aug 08, 2008 Todd rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: almost anybody
Shirley Jackson is my favorite author. I love her short stories in particular, where she creates scenarios where everything might seem cozy and normal and very laid-back for about 2 minutes. Then she moves over into mankind's sneakier nature, which for the suthor is either a very amusing thing or a very frigtening thing. And always a surprise. I liked the short story "The Lottery" a lot, but my favorites in this collection are "Like My Mother Used to Make" and "Trial by Combat". She honored real...more
"25 Demonic Stories", my arse!

I am so utterly disappointed!
I picked up this book because I expected it to contain a bunch of creepy short stories, as the subtitle suggests. I was in the right mood for something slightly scary, but what I got was just a collection of short stories of almost normal everyday life:

- Two little girls who get talked into believing that sailors on shore leave are bad guys - not creepy!
- A man who invites his neighbor over for dinner, and when another visitor appears, t...more
Apr 02, 2010 Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: Various Mentions
Shirley Jackson gives readers glimpses into the exceptional aspects of ordinary lives and events. Her unusual style runs consistently through 25 stories in this 300-page book, stories ranging from four to 22 pages each.

Though sometimes categorized under horror, this collection contains little of that genre. The exception is The Lottery, ten pages that anticipate Stephen King. But people focus too much on it. Far and away, the stories involve a moment -- an instant of realization during the ordi...more
Lee Foust
To me these are mainly stories of rather simple daily unkindnesses; small, unfeeling everyday acts and then all that they come to signify to our modern social situation. In the Middle Ages, according to Thomas Aquinas, pride was considered to be the gateway to the six other capital vices: following the logic that once one puts oneself above his or her fellow human beings, for whatever reason, it becomes easy to justify any other immoral act, any other sin. In the universe created in Shirley Jack...more
I can't believe I never wrote a review on The Lottery yet!

This was a story that I have ready probably close to 50 times. I read it the first time in high school (way too many years ago), and it has stuck with me. This book had me thinking late into the night about how the lottery winner could have been me. Then I would sit and think things like:

Why would people allow this to happen?
Can traditions really be that strong?
When it's wrong, why do people do it anyway?
How can people be so cruel?

That a...more
As it is with most kids, this was required reading for me in school (although I don't remember which grade). I enjoyed it at the time, as it was a shocking and interesting short story. Lately I've been really interested in Shirley Jackson's novels. I absolutely love her writing style and her material.

I reread this story last night, and just as before, It was shocking and interesting. It's done very well, because throughout the story all of the characters act normally (because the lottery is an a...more
Many people have spoken on the chilling qualities of Shirley Jackson's work. Myself, I just don't see it. I'll confess to being predisposed away from short stories; I find their brevity unsatisfying. Even taking that into account, however, I didn't find The Lottery: And Other Stories to be very entertaining. Some of the stories might have grabbed me if they were expanded, giving me time to bond with the characters and come to care what happened to them. As it stands, the book struck me as being...more
Eliza Victoria
Shirley Jackson finds horror everywhere: a living room with a new guest, a kitchen with a nosy helper, a window overlooking a mysterious new neighbor. There is suspense in the tiniest encounters, in the narrowest grocery aisles. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the craft of subtle horror writing. Ms. Jackson's the master.
The four star rating is just for The Lottery which is the last short story in this volume. I would venture to guess that many books/films have borrowed from The Lottery over the years.
These aren't scary stories -- they're chilling stories. Jackson is so good about making you feel comfortable in her own atmosphere, drawing you in to sit down and talk with her characters, thinking everything's okay... and then BAM! Everything turns on you. I was metaphorically squirming in my seat.

She exposes the human condition in such subtle ways, you're not even sure what she's doing. There are thoughts and emotions of normal, everyday people, and Jackson reveals the true uncomfortable filth...more
The Lottery: And Other Stories is a collection that actually deserves the title "collection"-- there are definite thematic threads weaving themselves through all the stories and the book is organized into 5 parts that I'm still thinking about because I don't get it yet. (That's a good thing.) This collection is like yellow gingham check fabric: cheerful and light at first glance and slightly menacing with a closer look. And that yellow gingham has a startling, single blue thread woven into the w...more
The Lottery and Other Stories
by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite writers. Her writing is psychologically ghoulish and ominous. Her stories are about ordinary people and communities who do extraordinarily frightening things. This seems to make some readers very uncomfortable and nervous -probably because they see themselves and their own communities in her stories.

Shirley Jackson whipped this story out in less than two hours, making only two minor corrections.“The Lottery” wa...more
You have to give this 5 stars, because it advanced the format, and nearly created contemporary horror/suspense that takes place in a mundane setting. It has also taught be about my world view - I think people are mostly assholes, but now and then are not. Others prefer to think people are mostly good, but sometimes screw up. This may be a bitter cynical view, but its mine, and it probably explains why I like unsympathetic characters so much. I don't HAVE any sympathy!!
No American in the 20th century that I know of wrote about human behavior as insightfully or as bitterly as Shirley Jackson. The over-the-top copy on the cover ("A Gem of Satanic Shock!!!") is laughably off-base, since most of her short stories aren't even remotely supernatural -- although they are creepy, uneasy slices of suburban picket-fence life told through the eyes of someone who had clearly mastered the perspective of the harrowed outsider.
Haven't read this since middle or maybe high school, when my teachers were vehement about the proper construction of stories, and mine came back with red marks all over them: what is the plot? where is the denouement? where is the character development? SEE ME.
But here was a writer (a real writer) who wrote like me. And so my teachers were wrong ...
The title story is simply incredible! Haunting and powerful, this collection is truly unusual, but in a good way. Jackson deals with some pretty grave subjects in her stories, such as racism and social morality, with a refreshing and vivid poignancy that leaves the reader gasping fro breath. This collection is a "can't miss" literary opportunity.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Apr 10, 2008 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Horror aficionados
A classic of horror that starts off deceptively cheery, and then goes straight to Twilight Zone territory. It's not gory, there are no supernatural monsters, the death count isn't high. And yet.
This is true horror.
Stacy Saunders
Reading this book is like stepping into another dimension. Nothing is as it seems. Take the story “Daemon Lover”. Is it really the laughter of her missing betrothed the woman hears behind the closed door of that otherwise-empty building? Or in “The Dummy,” does the ventriloquist insult his companion in the green dress, or can the dummy talk by itself? Did the stranger in “The Witch” actually commit the gruesome murder he describes to the little boy? In “The Lottery”, Jackson’s most famous story,...more
Still as good as ever and each story is still as chilling as when I first read it, especially "The Lottery."
Stephanie Spines
Initial Thoughts...

The first few stories didn't capture me, which I was disappointed by as a lover of We Have Always Lived... Short stories have never really been my cup of tea but I was hoping this book would change my mind.

I decided to flip to The Tooth The ability of that stoyr to evoke such intense feelings was just amazing and worthy of all the 5-star ratings in the world.

I read it on the bus and was feeling so claustrophobic, disoriented, dizzy and deeply unsettled by the end o...more
It's my understanding that writing short stories is hard. There just is not much time to develop a scene, characters, or even a plot. In a few pages perhaps the best you can hope for is the creation of a desired atmosphere. Jackson's tales take mundane daily life and plop it in a socially-awkward, somewhat surreal state. If it was more it would be Twilight Zone material; if it was any less it wouldn't merit a story at all. Overall these stories fell too much to the latter. I felt like each story...more
Lottery Reflection:

I got a clearer understanding of what actually happened. It was hard for me to comprehend to the story at first, due to the writing. For example, the part about when most of the locals were excited yet nervous about the Lottery, when there were some rumors of people thinking of dropping out of the tradition. In the end, Tessie who came late to the event, was the one who was getting stoned. And while she was getting stoned, she started bad mouthing the tradition and how it was...more
Shirley Jackson is truly adept at writing short stories. She strings her plots along with a surprising grasp of the disturbing, and an unexpected amount of good humor. Her eye for detail both intrigues and lulls one into a false sense of security.

The Lottery and Other Stories was originally dubbed with the surtitle 'the adventures of James Harris', something it should probably still contain. The second story in the collection "The Daemon Lover" sets the bar which nearly all the other stories fol...more
Although of course I'd read the title story -- more than once, I'm sure -- this has been my first major exposure to Jackson's work: a bumper collection of 25 stories and a pome. Many of the stories focus on middle-aged, middle-class women, often hypocritically prim and poisoned by their own prejudices, operating within and reacting to their limited social circles. They tend to be told in a sort of deadpan, sustainedly simple, slightly trivializing style that adds to the telling; I found quite of...more
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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 Haunting of Hill House The Lottery (Tale Blazers: American Literature) We Have Always Lived in the Castle Life Among the Savages Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories

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“Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.

"All right, folks," Mr. Summers said. "Let's finish quickly."

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box. Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. "Come on," she said. "Hurry up."

Mrs. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said, gasping for breath, "I can't run at all. You'll have to go ahead and I'll catch up with you."

The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, "Come on, come on, everyone." Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”
“Everything that makes the world like it is now will be gone. We'll have new rules and new ways of living. Maybe there'll be a law not to live in houses, so then no one can hide from anyone else, you see.” 5 likes
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