The Big Read IV: The Lottery and Other Stories -- Shirley Jackson "Flower Garden", "Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors" and "Colloquy"
"Flower Garden": In which we find another us/them country/city situation.
After living in an old Vermont manor house together for almost eleven years, the two Mrs. Winnings, mother and daughter-in-law, had grown to look a good deal alike, as women will who live intimately together, and work in the same kitchen and get things done around the house in the same manner.
Remember that episode of Six Feet Under where Nate comes home and his mother and Lisa are doing the dishes together and they swing around at exactly the same time and they're both wearing aprons and smiling and he just looks like he wants to turn around and start running and never, ever stop?
• "Eloquent hands". I like that.
• I had no idea that was where the story was going. How depressing. Stories like that make my stomach hurt. For a while, I thought maybe Mrs. Winning might come around, if only in her head -- because she was wistful about the bond between Mrs. MacLane and her son, the life that Mrs. MacLane and her son were creating in that cottage, because the cottage and its inhabitants represented the bright color that it seemed like Mrs. Winning longed for -- but that she wouldn't be able to voice it because it would mean going up against everyone she knew. I even could have understood (not justified, but understood) the times when she felt that she needed to make it clear that she sided with the rest of the people in the town. But the bit where Mrs. Winning realizes that she's enjoying Mrs. MacLane's discomfort and pain -- that, I thought, made it pretty clear that she was like the rest of them. I don't think it was a matter of her not standing up because she was afraid or because it was too hard -- I think it was a matter of her not standing up because she didn't want to.
"Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors": In which sailors are boogeymen. Or something.
• Okay, I admit it. I'm at a loss here, maybe because most of one side of my family is military, and heavily Navy. Was this a common thing, worrying about sailors?
• I felt that this story, more than most of the others, had a very specific sense of time and place.
• It did feel like the women equated the sailors with sex (especially when the narrator got lost and afterwards the mother shook her and said, "Aren't you ashamed?"), scared that they would say something or do something to destroy the girls' innocence -- or that maybe just being around them would somehow turn the girls into wantons. And the fear rubbed off on the girls, but it was more of a shapeless fear that gave me that boogeyman feeling.
• And again, a view of the lines that divide adults and children.
"Colloquy": Which means a conversation or dialogue, and yes, I looked it up.
• I don't have much to say about this one, other than that I feel for Mrs. Arnold.
"Afternoon in Linen"
"After You, Dear Alphonse" and "Charles"
"The Witch" and "The Renegade"
"My Life with R.H. Macy"
"Like Mother Used to Make" and "Trial By Combat"
"The Intoxicated" and "The Daemon Lover"