The Scary State of My Inbox, Shirley Jackson, and Other Halloween Horrors

I’ve been terribly negligent with my inbox. So many unread emails, so much blog reading I’ve fallen behind on. So little writing done that I’ve lost the ability to see a proper, preposition-free way to end that last sentence.

I’ll catch up on the blog reading, no worries there. Preposition-free endings are over-rated, so sail on archaic grammarian, sail on.

What’s sad is I don’t have a good reason for falling behind in email. It’s not like I traveled with WD to Florence, or Dave on his excursion to Ireland, or toured Basque country with Joe.

I might have done a little reading. Speaking of reading, do any of you subscribe to the New Yorker?

Neither do I, but I get their free weekly newsletter. They let you read four articles a month before you get the dreaded, “You have exceeded your monthly free articles, subscribe now to continue reading” notice.

Their last newsletter included a link to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” — first published in the New Yorker in 1948, as well as an article on the letters they received after its release (most of them not nice.)

Shirley Jackson

Anyway, on account of it being Halloween, reading a few Shirley Jackson tales might be in order. And just for kicks, here’s a short article on the first paragraph of The Haunting on Hill House and why it’s possibly the best first paragraph in literature.

As for my own Halloween plans, I’ll be with my kids who are visiting for a few days. We’ll be doing our family custom: watching The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a campy horror flick with Vincent Price, and gorging ourselves on candy. (Fellow bloggers: I’ll be catching up on your antics in-between Vincent’s diabolic murders.)


A more serious concern: Neighbor Buddy tells us to expect “around 100 to 200 trick-or-treaters.” He says many of the rural families drive into town, park, and let the kiddos wander the neighborhoods. (Eek!)

Suddenly my inbox doesn’t seem so bad.


Happy Halloween, all.

20 thoughts on “The Scary State of My Inbox, Shirley Jackson, and Other Halloween Horrors

  1. and being among the “newer” residents in town, I’m sure you’ll be extra attention. You might have to watch the movie twice. And being up to date on your inbox is overrated – except for notices from my blog … other than that who cares?

  2. Thank you, Christy. I needed some new reading material and you have never steered me wrong. I do hope you enjoy your time with your family and trick-or-treating with the new neighbors. Be blessed and keep praying it forward, my friend.

    1. It was a lovely evening and man, did we get the trick or treaters! Well over a hundred, we stopped counting. My kids fly out today, but we had a lovely time together. Thanks, Roo!

    1. Ah, see, I had to look it up. Found a charming article on the subject from Washington University, where someone did research into it. They found the most likely statement Churchill wrote included the word “bloody,” which I guess is too harsh for Wiki-quotes.

  3. Our second Halloween here in our country home, we had exactly zero. But the spiders, snakes, coyotes, and mountain lions (real, not decoration) kind of limit visitors. I was at rehearsal (no they don’t cancel for Halloween) so my husband could have lied and cleaned out the candy dish.

  4. Back in my day, trick-or-treating was all about the candy. Since the houses were close together in my neighborhood, we took in quite a haul. We could care less about pumpkins and decorations. What is it about your neighborhood that attracts so many trick-or-treaters?

    1. Unsure. Neighbor Buddy says it’s mostly rural families who come into town and park their truckload of kids by the golf course. Then they patrol all the homes, looking for goods. Gotta admit, there’s wisdom in their madness.

      1. I can’t blame the rural folks for heading into the city for Halloween. Out there, the poor kids probably have to walk six miles to the next farm just for a few pieces of candy corn.

  5. Ah, the clogged email inbox. My inbox hasn’t been empty since 1987, and I mean that in a purely platonic way.

    We had over 100 treaters as well. But I love it. I have a huge orange tub, similar to something pioneers most likely bathed in back in the day, which I lug to the door every time, staggering under the weight of the candy accumulated over the preceding month. I feel I haven’t succeeded in life unless I completely empty that thing twice on Halloween….

    1. You bear much in common with my son and husband who take care of all trick-or-treat duties. My daughter and I huddle in our Introvert Den, where no doorbell soundeth. It’s a glorious place. You should visit, once you’ve emptied the bowl.

  6. I love the articles on Shirley Jackson! I know I get comma crazy myself. I think it’s my background in acting that makes me want to throw commas everywhere. I want you to read my writing like I’m speaking and the commas are notations of slight pauses for me.

    That’s what I love about a great writer, though. They don’t always follow the rules. Writing is an artform. There’s a little bit of technique and form one should pay attention to, but ultimately you gotta bring you to it. That’s my opinion anyway.

    1. It’s crazy how many commas I have to remove. I’m probably creating a shortage of them!

      I had an English teacher who said “You can break the rules, but first you have to learn them.” Makes sense, I suppose.

      1. I do think that’s sound advice. I’ll look up grammar rules to check myself at times. I don’t always do a great job of that, but I do try when I’m feeling uncertain.

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