#ShortStorySunday – Homework for the October #6Degrees Meme.

Book Story Review for the Short Story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

Summary: “[This] is a short story by Shirley Jackson, first published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. Written the same month it was published, it is ranked today as “one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature.”

Age: Adult; Genres: Suspense, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary; USA, Vermont – Fictional Village; Other Categories: Short Story, Vintage.

LotteryI’ve never ready anything by this author before, but I’m guessing that our hostess for #6Degrees of Separation picked this because it is supposed to be a horror story and well… October… Halloween… right? I see that Jackson wrote the novel “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” which I’ve heard about, but not being a huge fan of suspense or thriller works, I’ve never read it.

Now, up until now, I’ve never done any homework for #6Degrees of Separation. But when I saw that I could get a copy of this tiny story online, I figured why not, right? It is listed as only being 8 pages long, and I finished it in two very short sittings.

As far as short stories go, this one was good. The writing style started out fairly light handed, and then moved onto being a bit darker as the story progressed. It also had some nice suspense leading up to the ending. However, I’m afraid I didn’t feel like there was much in this story to make me feel any emotional connection to any of the essential characters – especially for the person who “wins” this particular lottery. It is a good read, and a very quick one, but overall… it was just okay for me. I’ll give it two and a half stars out of five, and recommend it but only if you can find an online site to read it like I did.



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13 thoughts on “#ShortStorySunday – Homework for the October #6Degrees Meme.

  1. I think this has a lot to think about, and I think it is so beautifully built up. You could spend a long time on its last line and its different meanings. While I understand that older writing feel tried and true because others have taken on board the style, techniques etc, some works are just classics because their stories are timeless and true. that’s how I felt about this story. I agree that it’s old-fashioned in style but like Austen’s works, I think it retains its power. I agree that you don’t really build the emotional connection with individual characters (like I did with the story in my first link) but I found myself thinking about the story and the characters. Why do they turn up each year? Do they put their affairs in order each year just in case? Why do they start by standing there so calmly? Is there some sort of security in ritual? What do the kids feel? And what is this teaching them’ Why do some characters engage in the end with enthusiasm and others not? Why have some villages given up the practice but this one hasn’t? Are they all just sheep? Why do we tolerate violence, inhumanity?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true. Lately I’ve felt less annoyed by more fluffy novels and less averse to some elements that used to tick me off. For example, right now I’m reading a murder mystery (I’m kind of getting back into those), and about half way through, up pops a GHOST! Well, I usually HATE paranormal books, but this one is a bit more fun than scary, so I’m not going to DNF it because of this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This short story caused a sensation when it ran in the New Yorker! Everyone who read the New Yorker was talking about it and even thought it arrived mid-career for Jackson, it transformed her as an author, catapulting her up the ranks. Maybe it seems obvious now because the story was so transformative for fiction? The tropes we see here are used so often now.

    I haven’t read that short story in a long time but I just finished reading “Shirley Jackson, a Rather Haunted Life.” For her the story was not so much about McCarthyism (as everyone assumed) but more about the insularity of New England life, where she and her family felt like outsiders even after a decade of living in a small college town.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes… I can accept that this was probably groundbreaking at the time, and that we’re now looking for things that go beyond what she did here. Perhaps I judged it too harshly in that case. Thanks!


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