Just An Ordinary Day by Shirley Jackson

Mike’s review (V’s response in italics)

I dropped my notes in water, so some of this may be garbled.

Why did you drop your notes in water? Are you distorting all these booknotes on purpose?

I’m sloppy with my notes, to say the least. Comes from reading in bursts, where I can, with little real focus.

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Starting with the surprising height of the devil is a wonderful detail in “The Smoking Room.”

Okay so this is a collection of short stories… dig it.

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Wish I’d not read the two versions of “The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith” in a row. Not sure if I actually believe the first to be better or if the second became passe when I knew the general outcome already. Also, Jackson’s children/editors: these are not “shockingly different in attitude, theme, and climax.” The second is more cynical, but it’s the same story. I think if the second version had been placed with space between itself and the first, it could seem more radically different, maybe like a new story, but only because it’d have been a minute and I’d have forgotten details.

Are you referring to a note on the cover or in the intro? I always skip introductions to short story collections, poems and most other books until I get to the end because they usually try to frame something for me in a way I would not probably frame on my own. This frame is hard to shake even if you do disagree with its construction.

You’re right, but I can’t help myself. If it’s there, I assume it’s useful/necessary. I don’t know that I’ve ever found it to help the reading experience, but I still read the things.

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I got a book of short stories so I could read in small spurts, but that didn’t happen. After “The Honeymoon” debacle, I stopped reading forever.

Is forever for you like a series of hours, or days? For me it can be a few months in a book of shorts because there’s no long plot and list of characters you have to get back to and keep track of… this is a desirable characteristic in my fun reads these days (I say this as I”m reading the epic East of Eden… which is nothing if not long). 

I believe forever in this instance was somewhere around a week and a half. I know I was on pace to not have to renew from the Library and then I renewed and still only finished the day before the book was again due. When I’m engaged, I usually read every day. Most of the time I can keep that up for about a week and then fall apart for another week.

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The protagonists’ willing naivete grows a little old. I’m willing to admit I may be jaded at this point and have come to expect/heed the warnings readily. Strangely uncynical of me.

What warnings? Foreshadowing by the writer or by the editors in an intro?

The ominous psychic warnings of characters. The very overt foreshadowing of an author. Grew a bit tiresome to always read, about a third into the story, *scary ghost voice* “something bad will happen.”

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Why do I accept this magic and not Spanish magic realism? Because this is used to cook supper and clean clothes, the practical things sensible people would use magic for.

What? You don’t do realismo magico, you say? Que lastima! Borges, Cortazar and Garcia Marquez are a few inspiring mo-fos in my mind. I have spent too much time with Isabel Allende, though, I freely admit this.

There is a possibility I may accept. I don’t know. High school Spanish class was the worst. The teacher and I were quite opposed at everything. It was the one class I’ve ever managed to be kicked out of and I used to talk about large dildos at loud volumes in other classes (mentally stimulate your students, yo). And there was a bad experience within that class. So that may taint me. But also, there are other signs that it’s not for me. Game of Thrones, spells, English accents, I just can’t really get into it. I’m very self-involved.

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