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Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  880 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The stories in this edition represent the great diversity of her work, from humor to her shocking explorations of the human psyche. The tales range, chronologically, from the writings of her college days and residence in Greenwich Village in the early 1940s, to the unforgettably chilling stories from the period just before her death. They provide an exciting overview of th ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by Bantam (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,669)
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Shawn
IT'S A LONG REVIEW FOLKS, BUT WORTH IT!

What a fascinating collection! Perhaps not a good choice for an idle reader of Jackson looking for something to chew on after "The Lottery" (that choice would be The Lottery: Adventures of the Demon Lover or possibly The Magic of Shirley Jackson - I have not read the latter) but for those who have commenced through the superb The Haunting of Hill House and the wondrous We Have Always Lived in the Castle and are wondering what to read next - here's a solid o
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Paul
Shirley Jackson in many ways has frequently been made a victim of her own brilliance and success. Nowhere is this more perfectly framed than in this gigantic tome of previous uncollected short stories, many of which are also previously unpublished . She had the ability to craft perfect gems... I mean, it has to be hard to sit down at the keyboard with charismatic and terrifying works such as The Lottery looming over you and say, "...and what now?" Shirley Jackson was a paradox in many ways. On t ...more
Christopher
I love Shirley Jackson's stories and novels--she's one of my absolute favorite writers, and normally when I feel that way about a writer, I'd like the opportunity to have more books of their writing published, even posthumously, as this collections of stories was brought out long after her death. Unfortunately, this is all of Jackson's juvenile work, from when she was learning how to write stories. Many of them are quite badly done, overly sentimental, structurally awkward, conceptually unrealiz ...more
Fox
Unlike The Lottery where the stories collected followed a distinct theme, Just an Ordinary Day has little to unite the tales within. The collection is made up half of unpublished stories, and half of uncollected stories, thus becoming a best of the obscure of Shirley Jackson. Do not balk at the fact that stories have scarcely seen the light of day - the fact they hadn't been collected until recently is in some ways a travesty.

The stories consist of a whole slew of genres. There are the classic f
...more
Amy
This collection is hit and miss, but to me, every bit of Jackson available is worth reading. Even her lesser stories are better than most people's best work.

I find it interesting that so many people are amazed that a housewife was this talented. Hey world, housewives are.... HUMANS. They still have thoughts, feelings, and gifts just like unmarried or working women. It's not like brains and dreams are traded in for the job of caring for a family. So let's stop being shocked that a *mere homemaker
...more
Inaniel
The second half of the book is better. The stories seem more developed.
Megan E. McCarthy
Just so, so good. Shirley Jackson is unlike anyone else. In one of my mid-book updates, I compared her to Kafka, and I'm going to do it again. Except that Jackson manages to inspire that feeling of shrinking horror without ever having to resort to, say, giant cockroaches, or machines that carve bloody punishments into peoples' skin. She writes about the way petty, small-minded people can do so much to make themselves and their fellow human beings miserable, and personally, I find that much scari ...more
Becky
This collection originated as mysteriously as something out of a Shirley Jackson tale. More than twenty five years after Jackson’s death, a box is sent anonymously to one of her children. The box contained some of Jackson’s dusty old files including a handful of unpublished short stories. This led her children to the idea of publishing a new book containing these works. From there they found other unpublished Shirley Jackson short stories in library archives and relatives provided copies of long ...more
Christy
This collection has a few new (to me) pleasures that almost hit the highs of The Tooth or The Daemon Lover (from The Lottery and Other Stories). Talk about women on the verge of a nervous breakdown—Jackson has that locked, at least for the mid-20th century garden-variety middle class lady type-woman. Nightmare, The Mystery of the Murdered Bride, Before Autumn, are all good variations on that theme, and up there with Charlotte Perkins Gilman in terms of making the larger social connection. The Ve ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
If Edgar Allan Poe is the father of the American short story, Shirley Jackson is the Godmother. Best known for her stories "The Lottery" and "Charles", and novels like "We Have Always Lived in the Castle", she set modern fashion for darkness, psychological thrillers etc.

"Just An Ordinary Day" is a collection of stories and fragments found, collated and published after her death.

From light-as-air comedy and romance written for women's magazines of the fifties, through slices of day-to-day life a
...more
Djrmel
This collection is all over the place in content and quality. It's a posthumous publication, so it's quite likely that Ms. Jackson herself would have been unimpressed with some of these stories. Certainly, they all show her natural talent as a writer, but the stories written in college and in some cases, the ones written to fill an order from magazines are flat and unpolished. Others read like second drafts of what could have become something amazing. If you're looking for works like "The Lotter ...more
Tracey
Having just finished Jackson's mostly-autobiographical collections Raising Demons and Life Among The Savages, I was looking forward to more of her writing, specifically the spooky suspense fiction she is best known for.
This collection of stories provides the occasional chill, as well as the suburban satire and urban observations she does so well. The story settings are pretty much of their time, but the characters and observations are timeless.
While a couple of the stories are a bit rough, th
...more
Jessica
I have not read Haunting of Hill House or the Lottery or anything at all by Shirley Jackson beside this book. My husband has, and he assures me that she her books tend toward unspeakably creepy. I could see that. The stories in this one weren't (usually) creepy, but they were often...unsettling. Even the stories without a hint of the supernatural tended toward psychological studies that were creepily, subtly dark.

Mostly. And then you have fairy godmothers showing up to make dinner out of nothin
...more
Sara
If I had to choose one writer who is my primary inspiration and influence, it would have to be Shirley Jackson, and this collection of short stories is what I, as a writer, aspire to achieve. Her imagination and her daring command of the bizarre through such a vivid lens that illuminates truth is unparalleled. Her grasp of a psychological, character-driven story is admirable. I'll always be indebted to Shirley Jackson, and in particular these stories, for making me want to read and write more, a ...more
Michelle
Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite writers. While these stories may not be her absolute best, I adore the restraint with which she writes and the undeniable feeling of dread one gets when reading her stories. I read her short story that was turned into the movie "The Birds" and have to say that, for me, the story was far creepier than the movie as it was told with remarkable quietness and, yes, restraint. Of course, don't miss "The Lottery"!
Pamela
I adore Shirley Jackson's writing and was pleased to find this collection of stories that I hadn't read yet. There are some true gems in here. The collection is eclectic, ranging from stories about her family life (as in Life Among the Savages) to creepy short stories in the vein of The Lottery. Usually in short story collections there are a few that are good and many that are just OK but this collection is almost all good stories. Well worth the read.
Jeremy
Shirley Jackson is one of the top writers of 20th Century Americana, so it shouldn't be a surprise that her previously uncollected short stories are pure revelation. These tales all fit into a spectrum whose poles might best be defined by Norman Rockwell on one end and The Twilight Zone on the other. But even the relatively twisted ones are an absolute delight. Or perhaps I should say especially.
Frances Sawaya
"Miss Jackson seemingly cannot write a poor sentence." (Minn. Tribune) how true it is! Completed the first story and am already in awe and aware that she died much too soon. Want to read more; want this to never end.

Difficult to rate in that the first section contains, in chronological order, her unpublished works. Many of these needed finishing touches but still show what a talented and imaginative storyteller Jackson was. I especially enjoyed the two versions of "The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith."
...more
meeners
christmas in march! there's a veritable treasure trove of stories here - some never before published, some published once and then subsequently lost to time, some that are macabre and chilling, some that are deftly light and funny, and so on. at first i didn't quite know what to make of those unpublished stories, but after a while i found myself fascinated by them - by how reality seems to warp around the worlds found within those opaque, unformed, implacably intense stories rather than the othe ...more
Martha
Feb 09, 2008 Martha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shirley Jackson is my favorite short story writer. These are alternately charming and dark, with an amazing insight into human nature. My favorite is "The Possibility of Evil."
Lo
This was published just as I was discovering the magic of Shirley Jackson, gently pushed by an English teacher to read more than just "The Lottery." It's incredible! The "found manuscripts in a barn" angle is the closest thing in my universe to discovering lost pirate treasure. It's rare that I feel fortunate or privileged to read something, but I did feel very lucky to have this book, and it did not disappoint.

If you ever find yourself in the midst of chaos or insanity and think "yep, just an
...more
Monsieurvenus
El hecho de que sean historias previamente no recogidas en un libro e relatos da a entender que son historias menores, y en cierto sentido es así. Sin embargo, hasta aquellas historias menos maduras demuestran una visión y una calidad incomparables. Ha sido muy interesante leer la evolución de un estilo y cómo poco a poco se iba conformando la temática principal de su obra. Para mí, una maravilla.

Como curiosidad, diré que aparecen dos historias que fueron publicadas en la Fantasy and Science fi
...more
Randee
I love Shirley Jackson and am happy to have this in my collection. She's rocked my world for several decades and she is nothing less than stunning whether she's writing short stories, novels or her families adventures. One of the very best American writers in my humble opinion.
Jessica
I picked this up after I read 'We Have Always Lived in this Castle' by her (although, 'The Haunting of Hill House' is considered her best book). This was published posthumously after the family went through various boxes of her work that she left behind. They picked out the stories they felt were complete/what their mother would approve of. A lot of the stories feel unfinished, but I think it's part of their charm. The short stories run the gamut of reflections on her family life, disturbing hap ...more
Martha
This is a wonderful collection of previously unpublished or uncollected stories by Jackson. They aren't at the level of "The Lottery, but very enjoyable, ranging from funny to entertainingly creepy.
Ellen
This is one of my favorite books. Almost all of the stories are great, but a few of my best picks would be 'The Story We Used To Tell', 'Nightmare', 'About Two Nice People', and 'Come to the Fair'. This collection is bizarre, sweet,romantic, and sometimes little bit of macabre. Anyone who is afraid to read SJ because of her creepier, more well known work, (Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery) should give this book a try. I fell in love with Shirley Jackson after I read this book. Sorry that she ...more
TinHouseBooks
Masie Cochran (Associate Editor, Tin House Books): In September, I finished reading Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages and this week I dipped back into Shirley Jackson’s Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories. I’m blown away by the range of this collection—the opening stories had me laughing and the last stories (written in the period just before Jackson’s death) left me checking the locks on my doors. One that just won’t let go is ”The Story We Used to Tell,” about two young women ...more
Spotsalots
This volume of Jackson's previously uncollected stories begins with a set of unpublished pieces and ends with one of published. They range from the cozy and lighthearted to the chilling, which is not unexpected from Shirley Jackson. Overall they're excellent, but it seemed to me that the unpublished stories tended to be better than the published; the latter were often weaker and more conventional.

The last piece is perversely amusing, and exactly what I would have written myself had I had the exp
...more
Kaethe
2004 Jul 04
Jennifer
Compared to her more famous works, this collection is pretty sub-par. The stories often feel unfocused and under-developed. The collection was put together after her death by her children; many were not published in her life (and you can see why). The ones that were are nothing special. A reader looking for a true Shirley Jackson experience would be better served reading The Haunting of Hill House (excellent!).
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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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“I suppose the mothers of most twelve-year-old boys live with the uneasy conviction that their sons are embarked upon a secret life of crime.” 6 likes
“People who are all alone have every right to be friends with one another.

("The Honeymoon Of Mrs. Smith" - Version 1)”
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