Come Along With Me by Shirley Jackson

Synopsis:
Short stories, essays, and an unfinished novel by Shirley Jackson, queen of American Gothic and author of “The Lottery.”

Review:
My love for Shirley Jackson has been well documented in this blog, so I was delighted when my husband got me Come Along With Me for my birthday.

The collection opens with “Come Along With Me,” the novel that Jackson was working on when she died at the untimely age of 44. At about 33 pages, there isn’t much of a narrative, just a character study of an eccentric woman, drawn with Jackson’s signature idiosyncratic touch. It’s disappointing that she never completed the novel, because this fragment shows signs of being as complex and rich a work as the puzzling Hangsaman, my favorite of Jackson’s novels.

The stories that follow aren’t, in my opinion, as masterful as those found in The Lottery and Other Stories, but they’re still worth reading. My favorite was “The Bus,” where an elderly woman takes a bus ride into “Twilight Zone” territory. It’s terse and terrifying without being overstated.

Closing the collection are two lectures on writing and an essay on “The Lottery,” Jackson’s most famous short story, in which she discusses the spectrum of reactions to the story. The essays on writing are inspirational in a folksy sort of way, and offer great practical advice on story construction and harnessing the creative process. I will absolutely be rereading these.

7 thoughts on “Come Along With Me by Shirley Jackson”

  1. I’ve always been disappointed that Come Along With Me is only a fragment. It would have been even better than Castle or Hangsaman.
    Shirley Jackson rocks!

  2. I recently read the Haunting of Hill House and in my research for info on the novel, I found lots of cool info on Shirley Jackson. The Lottery was one of my favorite pieces of required reading in School and I thought even then that Shirley Jackson seemd a bit ahead of her time for a writer in the 50’s. Anyway – reading your post reminded me that I want to read more of Shirley’s work and more about Shirley herself. Thanks .

  3. Come Along With Me, although unfinished, is one of the finest novelas I’ve read. It differs from Jackson’s other novels in that it is hysterically funny, full of ironic conversatons, and yet can be read seriously.
    She initiates and develops so many threads
    (crazy lady; she gives a brief history of her spirits; a growing relationship with the crippled boy; seances; following strangers in the street and meeting one; one suspects there is something in her life with her late husband of interest without any clue of what it is that will contribute to the plot.

    One wonders where she is headed; she develops so many subplots and not enough is written to have much an idea of what the central tension of the story is going to be. Communication and further development with her ex-husband?

    What does Come Along WIth Me mean? No idea. I have thought of how the book might have developed. Her husband somehow crosses universes and drags her to her death? Or her seances are further developed and something comes of them. Or perhaps some climactic supernatural event occurs and she loses her “voices” and becomes a normal human being again?

    This is a story I’ve reread several times and always enjoy. Some of the later chapters are unedited and especially interesting.

    The great wonder of it is that we will never know.

  4. Hi,
    I would love to discuss Come Along With Me, the novela in development at the time of
    Shirley Jackson’s death, with any other fans. I have reread this several times and wish I had the talent to finish it.

    Right now I’m tied up for a few weeks, but I will write a short review as soon as I can.
    I do think that this book is incredibly sardonic and amusing, showing a new aspect of her capabilities not seen in her other works.

    my best to all
    jjeff

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