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Raising Demons

(Jacksons #2)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,392 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
In the uproarious sequel to Life Among the Savages, the author of The Haunting of Hill House confronts the most vexing demons yet: her children

In the long out-of-print sequel to Life Among the Savages, Jackson’s four children have grown from savages into full-fledged demons. After bursting the seams of their first house, Jackson’s clan moves into a larger home. Of course,
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Penguin Books (first published 1957)
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Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Garden
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life in the Eisenhower Era, particularly in small towns, is usually thought of as placid if not downright dull. But not at the pen of the amazing Shirley Jackson, who concluded her mom-with-kids comic short stories that began in book form with the best-selling Life Among the Savages (1953) with this Raising Demons (1957). Only a mystery writer as gifted as Jackson could deal in the elements of horror and make them so funny -- the mania for building clothespin dolls with a friend as a child -- th ...more
Justin Tate
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Raising Demons is a seamless sequel to Life Among the Savages and just as good. Maybe better. The story continues shortly after the other left off, with various anecdotes about raising Laurie, Sally, Jannie and Barry. Why it ever went out of print is a mystery. If ever there was a timeless classic novel, this is it.

Shirley's observant eye for humor in everyday life shines brilliantly, with simple prose that feels homey and familiar. You love her, her children and all the characters involved. Bes
Annie Rosewood
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Just like Life Among the Savages, I did not want this to ever end. I laughed out loud so many times and I now feel like Shirley is an old friend - the absolutely hilarious, witty, clever kind that is so rare to find.
Melissa McShane
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction, humor
Re-read 3/26/17: Upped the rating to four stars, because I liked it better this time around, and because for some reason I was thinking of it in terms of how much her children must appreciate having these memories told so wonderfully. Even the stories where they come off sounding awful.

7/13/13: 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 Jack
Lee Anne
May 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I absolutely loved this sequel to Living Among the Savages. Still just as charming and funny, I loved seeing a glimpse into the life of one of my favorite authors. Her stories are still told with the same wry wit and chilling grasp on human nature. I will definitely reread these!
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
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2017-reads
I remember trying to read Jackson's Life Among the Savages and this book in my 20s and then putting them aside unfinished, because I didn't perceive any EDGE. I've now returned to the two books, and discovered a little bit of edge - it's just discernible but it's there. I'm fascinated that this is the same writer who composed The Lottery and Haunting at Hill House.

It seems as if Jackson revealed more about her marriage in this book, or simply shared more feelings. This is not the story of a com
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
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
V. Briceland
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Troy Blackford
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not be-LIEVE how funny this was. This was an incredible, insightful, highly personal family memoir. I didn't realize that I should have read 'Life Among the Savages' first, as it is chronologically antecedent. But that failure didn't diminish my enjoyment. I knew Shirley Jackson was one of the most gifted writers in the horror genre, establishing much of the modern tone and possessing one of the most distinctive, poetic, and lyrical voices the genre has ever seen. But I am *flabbergasted ...more
Diana Tilson
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Stephanie A.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poignant and comical, Shirley Jackson's tales of raising her four children, as a faculty wife, in a 1950's small town was a delightful read. Nostalgia, domestic mayhem, and simple stories of life created evocative scenes such as this which left me lumpy-throated for simpler times.

"That summer was one of the hottest we have ever had, and I got sunburned sitting on the hill over third base. The day Laurie pitched a no-hit shut-out I thought I had sunstroke. In the middle of the fifth inning, when
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The writing is everything in this collection of stories of domestic life in the fifties. In a lesser woman's hands, it could have been cloying, twee garbage. Jackson's magic pen turns stories of a malfunctioning refrigerator or a lost sneaker into art. You never lose sight of the fact that this mother of four, who cooks and cleans and shops and chauffeurs her non-driving husband, would quite possibly chuck the whole thing for a solo apartment in NYC if the opportunity arose. And who could have b
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
98% of the book is chuckle worthy, an all-too-real take on stay-at-home parenthood. And then you get to the last chapter...and basically die crying, because having kids is the ultimate experience. I know that statement will piss off some people who don't have children, and I'm not saying that everyone should make that choice. But if you do, it becomes the most real thing that ever happens to you. The last chapter expresses that perfectly, and I defy you not to cry!
Amy Christenson
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So wry, funny and charming. I kept re-reading individual sentences because they were so perfectly written
Julie Davis
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Both Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are fabulous reads from Shirley Jackson about her family life in rural Vermont. Very funny, and both a window to the past.

I find it interesting that Shirley Jackson never refers to her writing in either of the books. In Life Among the Savages she is asked what her occupation is and she says "writer" but aside from that she does not bring it up at all in either book. I wonder why? I know the focus is supposed to be on her family life, but one would
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
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
Feb 25, 2010 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
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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

Other books in the series

Jacksons (3 books)
  • Life Among the Savages
  • Life Among the Savages / Raising Demons
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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.” 6 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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