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Raising Demons

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  1,132 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Life Among the Savages charmed thousands with its insightful wit and contrasting warmth. In this sequel, Shirley Jackson continues her affectionate, hilarious, sophisticated tale of dubious parental equilibrium in the face of four children, assorted dogs and cats, and the uncounted heaps of small intrusive possessions which pile up in corners everywhere.
Paperback, 310 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Academy Chicago Publishers (first published 1957)
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Apr 11, 2009 Oriana rated it it was amazing
A few years ago my sister broke her jaw. (She fell off a ladder; don't ask.) Among many other things, this resulted in one of my all-time favorite photos of the two of us—this is what I texted my folks at 4am to let them know she was okay.


So good, right? Anyway, I unearthed this book from the very bottom of a very large stack as a possible candidate to read to her while she was recovering from surgery. And it was such such such a perfect choice! With the possible exception of The Amazing Macke
Hannah Messler
Feb 07, 2011 Hannah Messler rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh, there's no better expression for this book than just total freaken absolute BUNDLE OF JOY. This book is just a bundle of damn joy, man. I will certainly read its companion, Life Among the Savages. "Raising Demons" is, in fact, Shirley Jackson's title for a book about raising her children. And if you know anything about Shirley Jackson, you might wonder what in heaven's name is in store for you here. Because she can be creepy as hell. Which I love, I mean that's what we go to Shirley ...more
Lee Anne
May 05, 2009 Lee Anne rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-author
There's a scene in season one of "Mad Men" in which little Sally Draper is playing spaceman by wearing a dry cleaning bag over her head and entire body. When mom Betty sees her, she's angry...because "if my clothes from that dry cleaning bag are on the floor of my closet, you're going to be a very sorry young lady." This book is thrilling to read for its depiction of mid-century parenting, things you can actually get arrested for today. Baby Barry's car seat is in the front, while the other thre ...more
Jan 14, 2010 tee rated it it was ok
This is a review of both Life Among The Savages and Raising Demons, as I read a volume that had both in it.

Usually I read to escape from life and the problem I had with this book is that I was reading about housework and it's mundanity, raising children and it's frustrations - and then I'd put the book down to do exactly that in-real-life. I feel all chored out and I haven't even done any housework today. I do use the word 'frustrations' lightly. Jackson hardly even implied that raising four chi
V. Briceland
May 18, 2015 V. Briceland rated it really liked it
To anyone familiar with any of Shirley Jackson's novels of horror, or her tales of psychological disintegration, or at least her most famous spine-chilling short story, "The Lottery," the notion that the same author penned two light-hearted book-length domestic memoirs might seem preposterous. Jackson's trenchant sense of humor, however, was always the leaven to her more macabre sensibilities; her rich appreciation of the absurd is, in fact, the engine to most of her writing. Even in the territo ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Kevin rated it it was amazing
This is some seriously wholesome apple-pie Americana mom-oir writing with just a dose of weird and I love it. I can't even begin to fathom that it's from the same Shirley Jackson that we know as ... well, Shirley Jackson.

I don't know how to say it all again but I'll try by using different words. It's a series of sincere and genuinely funny stories about her kids and her husband and her pets, back in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Baseball and cooking and running a household and tree houses and p
Feb 04, 2009 Diana rated it it was amazing
These books are over too soon. I wish Shirley Jackson had written more of them, and that her children had written a follow-up compendium so that readers would know what they are doing now...

This was the second of these books (My Life Among the Savages was the first) but I actually found this one even more satisfying. I couldn't read it on the train because it made me laugh out loud too often, so I had to read it in the privacy of my home where I could give myself over fully to giggling.

These a
Feb 24, 2016 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike all the other SJ books I've been reading these past few months, I don't know that I'd ever before read this in its entirety. Being the sequel to Life Among the Savages, Raising Demons suffers a bit from a sense of been there done that; most of the best of her family stories are in the previous book, and with two of Jackson's four kids being much older here, the material just doesn't have those same sparks (she was a master at capturing the peculiar rhythms and habits of young children in ...more
Stephanie A.
Jan 20, 2013 Stephanie A. rated it really liked it
Shelves: vintage
While it has some of the same problems as the first book (with never-ending sentences and some superfluous paragraphs that ramble), I liked this one even more since the children were a bit older. It was the perfect nostalgic depiction of a (semi-chaotic) storybook 1940s/1950s household, full of kids and pets and one rather put-upon husband.
Julie Davis
Sep 03, 2013 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
I needed something light (and also light weight) for bedtime since I'm at Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings and not only is the journey stressful, but the book might crush me if I fell asleep reading it.

I was perusing my shelves and came across this old favorite which was just what I needed. Written with all of Jackson's usual skill, it is a complete opposite to her better known horror works (The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House). This book about life with her family may call to mind someth
Mar 03, 2010 Judy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who is raising or has raised kids.
Shirley Jackson's follow-up to Life Among the Savages covers the middle years of her children's lives. I loved every page. She is a consummate writer. The family moves to a larger home, acquires more cats and dogs, while Shirley learns the mixed emotions that come with being a faculty wife.

Once again I was amazed at the amount of humor and true affection for children that she brought to this further account of her family life. It is such a contrast to her spooky novels and the troubled charact
The further adventures of Shirley Jackson and her family as they move to yet another large house and proceed to fill that with odds and ends, lose things, have neurotic episodes with the pets and with each other, and generally experience chaos. I love the way she writes these chronicles, it's almost one long breathless story that just goes on and on. A highlight here is the trip to New York, in which her daughter Sally (who can do magic and disappears for lengths of time to visit a fairy in a tr ...more
Melissa McShane
Jul 23, 2013 Melissa McShane rated it liked it
Shelves: own, non-fiction, humor
Much as I enjoyed this, I didn't like it as much as Life Among the Savages, probably because as Jackson's kids got older, it was increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that they're either brats or Jackson isn't a very good parent. Still, there are some excellent moments here, particularly her description of the new house they buy, her oldest son Laurie's one year in Little League, and the wild antics of their pets. Jackson is still brilliant and funny, and the book is well worth picking up.
This was okay - I'm disappointed that this, of all her books, is the last new-to-me full-length Shirley Jackson book I'll ever read! This is her second memoir of her life keeping a household together as a woman in the 50s; her writing is hilarious and dry and really does give a good picture of what a middle-class "professor's wife" would have experienced...but I feel like I got that and more out of her first memoir, Life Among Savages, and didn't really need the second.

The section where she rem
Jenn Estepp
I've been doling little bits of this out to myself each night, savoring it. As expressed elsewhere, my joy on finding that it was finally in print again was sort of unparalleled. As a follow-up to Life Among the Savages, it doesn't quite live up to it's predecessor, but that is maybe because it wasn't such a joyful surprise as that one had been? (i.e. I knew what to expect this time around). And also, there were a few moments when her kids (exaggerated, I'm sure) made me a little bonkers. That s ...more
Feb 25, 2010 Valissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot recommend Ms. Jackson's books enough for humor and family and a world that no longer exists. It's so appealing and her wry voice brings a glamour to 4 kids, innumerable animals, and old houses.

"Dewey, dewey," said Beekman, this being a combination word he used for a series of connected ideas, roughly translatable as: Observe my latest achievement, far surpassing all my previous works in this line, a great and personal triumph representing perhaps the most intelligent process ever accomp
Jackson, writing about her four kids, husband, and small Vermont town, is hilarious. Although nothing in this book can top the disappearing pillow sequence in Life Among the Savages.
Jan 28, 2009 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it
More funny stories about child rearing in the 1950s by the author of The Lottery
Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
Not as awesome as her novels, but funny nonetheless.
Shirley Jackson is my new hero and I'm declaring 2016 my year of her. In Raising Demons, the sequel to Life Among the Savages, Jackson continues her narrative on motherhood, life in a small Vermont town, and raising children (the 'savages' from the previous book who have now all grown to be 'demons', her four children: Laurie, Jannie, Sally, and Barry). Jackson describes their move to a new home, small crises with kitchen appliances, her eldest son's foray into Little League, her daughter's apt ...more
Gail Gauthier
Oct 09, 2016 Gail Gauthier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago, I reread one of Shirley Jackson's collection of short stories. I was struck by how many of them dealt with women's issues, often from a dark angle. Raising Demons is one of Jackson's two memoirish books about her years raising young children while living in Bennington, Vermont. It is light and charming. I just read an article in Slate in which the author claims Jackson "invented" this kind of mommy writing. But in Jackson's case, there is sometimes the feel of a woman nearing th ...more
Elyse Rudin
Dec 31, 2016 Elyse Rudin rated it it was ok
This book was just published again after being out of print. It was written in 1954 and it's about a family in Vermont. There are four kids and a dog and a cat with kittens. It received wonderful reviews and I thought it would be fun to read. I got to page 80 and stopped. So boring. Nothing happens and when something a little out of the ordinary occurs it's still slow and boring. Sweet but not worth the time.
Jan 27, 2017 Sebastian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First read: January 27, 2017, Friday
Jan 03, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it
Shirley Jackson's name is so synonymous with horror that her humorous family stories have been largely forgotten. Initially published in women's magazines, these stories of housekeeping and child rearing in post-WWII America have a remarkably modern feel. At the time, Jackson was the primary breadwinner in the family, a detail she leaves out of her stories (it was the '50's after all), in addition to being the primary care giver to four children. One could criticize her for perpetuating the happ ...more
While the humor is on every page, Raising Demons isn't nearly as funny as Life Among the Savages, Jackson's first book on her homelife. It's quieter, subdued in a way, or perhaps worn down the way a mother gets when she deals with the same issues and challenges each and every day. The black hilarity of those repetitive passages of hers, sketching each and every detail to bring the full view of her immediate and growing predicament into sharp relief, continued in this book. The stories were a per ...more
Sep 20, 2016 Joanne added it
had to re read one of my favorites from childhood and found it in the cleaning
Nov 08, 2016 Myles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After trying to put away some of her children's toys and finding nowhere to put them without displacing something else, our narrator (an idealized Shirley Jackson) realizes the family needs a new house. Just like Life Among the Savages, the surface of the book is wry and warm, but there are tremors under the surface. The children keep saying cryptic things, appearances are hard to maintain and people are always watching, and our narrator can't help pointing out the inequities of her times. The c ...more
Dec 22, 2016 Rebecca rated it liked it
This is basically a story about family life. It didn't really interest me but that may be because I don't have a family of my own yet.
Jul 24, 2015 Sally rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
What a wonderful book! This is written in a dryly humorous style--think Sally teasing Buddy on "The Dick van Dyke Show". Jackson obviously loved her family a lot, and knowing her literary output, it's admirable to read about her efforts to teach her children manners and stay within the household budget and get dinner on the table. She makes homemaking look worthwhile, something that we seem to have lost in our time. Now, it's done self-consciously, almost as a desperate attempt to elevate it in ...more
Oct 28, 2015 James rated it liked it
I could read this author's prose for days upon days. My wife gave me this book as and extra birthday present at the end of August and I've been reading it slowly, doling out little tastes here and there to enjoy it as long as I could.

This is a memoir of family. Having four kids. A husband. Being a wife and a mother to her brood. The stories are directly told, some of them hilariously, with a wicked sense of how to string a reader along to the very end, using every writerly trick in the book to m
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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
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“We started out making men in about the state of mind which I suppose created them in the first place -- we had run out of kinds of women, and had to think of something else.” 7 likes
“We started out making men in about the state of mind which I suppose created them in the first place—we had run out of kinds of women, and had to think of something else.” 2 likes
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