Henry James The Art Of Fiction Essay On The Lottery

InterviewsMay 14, 2010

Editor Joyce Carol Oates on the enduring spell of Shirley Jackson

In connection with the publication in May 2010 of Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Rich Kelley conducted this exclusive interview for The Library of America.

LOA:Where should we place Shirley Jackson in the American canon? What was Jackson’s distinguishing achievement?

Oates: Shirley Jackson is one of those highly idiosyncratic, inimitable writers whose achievement is not so broad, ambitious or so influential as the “major” writers—Melville, James, Hemingway, Faulkner—but whose work exerts an enduring spell. Her “distinguishing” achievement is probably the famous story “The Lottery”—or the excellent suspense/Gothic novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

LOA:The volume includes Jackson’s very entertaining essay “Biography of a Story” which she frequently read before her public readings of “The Lottery.” When The New Yorker published “The Lottery” in its June 26, 1948 issue, the story generated more mail than any story the magazine has ever published. Was it really that different from anything published before? Why do you think it caused such a stir?

Oates: “The Lottery” is not so very different from brilliantly rendered and unsettling short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, for instance “The Tell-Tale Heart.” But it was published in The New Yorker, at that time far less than now a sort of bastion of proper middle-class/Caucasian-American values. The magazine tended to be prim, prissy, self-regarding, its tone annoyingly arch. Jackson’s story suggests that ordinary Americans—like the readers of The New Yorker, in fact—are not so very different from the lynch-mob mentality of the Nazis. Of course, Jackson’s vision of humankind is a bit simplistic and reductive, but hers is the art of radical distillation, like Flannery O’Connor, not subtly observed social drama like that of Henry James, Edith Wharton, or John Updike.

LOA: The Wall Street Journal recently referred to The Haunting of Hill House as “widely regarded as the greatest haunted house story ever written.” In his Danse Macabre Stephen King writes that “it and James’s The Turn of the Screw are the only two great novels of the supernatural in the last hundred years.” What sets The Haunting of Hill House apart?

Oates: This is possibly true—my preference is for We Have Always Lived in the Castle. However, The Haunting of Hill House is a highly engaging and suspenseful ghost story, that is, like all good ghost stories, an anatomy of its characters. Jackson’s “hauntedness” is in her troubled protagonist, not in the actual house—there is the possibility that a toxic individual is a contagion to others, and to herself.

LOA:In your review of We Have Always Lived in the Castle in The New York Review of Books you wrote that “of the precocious children and adolescents of mid-twentieth century American fiction”—and you include Frankie of Carson McCullers’s Member of the Wedding, Scout of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye—“none is more memorable than eighteen-year-old ‘Merricat’ of Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece of Gothic suspense.” What is it about Merricat that puts her at the top of this impressive roster—and why isn’t this remarkable novel better known?

Oates: Merricat has a sly, mock-naive voice that is very appealing, and very seductive, yet cruel and sinister as well. Listen to how she introduces herself:

The other novels are rather more “young adult” and “good”—their appeal is to a wider audience.

LOA:King notes that one of the motifs that Jackson uses in The Haunting of Hill House is to change the familiar Gothic “Bad Place” from a “womb” symbolizing sexual interest and fear of sex to a “mirror” symbolizing interest in and fear of the self. This question of whether what’s happening in the novel is psychological or supernatural—was this new with Jackson, or did she just do it better than most?

Oates: Shirley Jackson was much influenced by Henry James—you can register the Jamesian rhythms in her sentences—and so it is doubtful that she would have been drawn to write about the supernatural as an end in itself—only its psychological manifestations would be of interest to her. (In brief, this is the distinction between the “literary” Gothicist and the more popular Gothicist—in the latter, the ghosts are real.)

LOA:In A Jury of Her Peers, her overview of American women writers from 1650 to 2000, Elaine Showalter finds in Jackson the “three faces of Eve” that women writers in the fifties struggled with: the happy housewife, the intellectual and artist, and the “bad girl.” Jackson raised four children but was afflicted with depression, obesity, alcoholism, and agoraphobia. What do you make of the fact that she created her two masterpieces, The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), during the most troubled period of her life?

Oates: Writing—all art—is often compensatory for the artist. Think of the sequestered Emily Dickinson writing her incandescent verse while trapped in her “father’s house”—as she called it. Think of home-bound/house-bound/debt-bound Herman Melville writing Moby-Dick in rhapsodic desperation, far from the high sea that so inspired him. Jackson was not exactly abused or mistreated by her husband in any obvious way but Stanley Edgar Hyman expected Jackson to be his housewife-slave to a degree, and she had to find time for her writing when she could. (Hence, Jackson’s household was said to be very, very messy—overrun with cats!) She could not have been happy to know that her professor-husband had affairs with his Bennington students, who tended to adore him, while Jackson was stuck at home.

LOA:In a 1997 appreciation of Shirley Jackson on Salon.com, Jonathan Lethem pointedly remarked that, “She’s also terribly funny. Her observations are dry, her dialogue shockingly fresh and absurd, and her best stories can make you think of a collaboration between James Thurber and a secular Flannery O’Connor.” Do you see this as part of her enduring appeal? Does dry humor stay fresh the longest?

Oates: Jackson can be very funny in her “housewife” mode—see her domestic sketches: “Charles” or “The Third Baby’s the Easiest,” or “The Night We All Had Grippe.” She later revised these and included them in her bestselling memoirs of family life. In her darker mode—in stories like “The Daemon Lover,” “The Possibility of Evil,” or “The Summer People”—her humor is not so very evident. She seems almost literally to have had two personalities—in one quite large body—the one aiming for a popular readership of primarily women by way of the women’s magazines—the other the “Gothic” writer who perhaps wrote to please her own criteria, and did not aim for any particular magazine market.

(That “The Lottery” was published in The New Yorker is one of those happy accidents of publishing history. Another editor at the same magazine might have rejected it as too dark.)

LOA:In Private Demons, her rather chilling biography of Shirley Jackson, Peggy Oppenheimer quotes one of the rare statements Jackson made about her writing that tied together her interest in witchcraft and in eighteenth-century fiction (her favorite writer was apparently Samuel Richardson): “I have had for many years a continuing interest in magic and the supernatural. I think this is because I find there so convenient a shorthand statement of the possibilities of human adjustment to what seems to be at best an inhuman world.” Eighteenth-century novels she loved for “the preservation and insistence on a pattern superimposed precariously on the chaos of human development. I think it is the combination of these two that forms the background of everything I write—the sense which I feel, of a human and not very rational order struggling inadequately to keep in check forces of great destruction, which may be the devil and may be intellectual enlightenment.” Is seeing this heroic Manichaean struggle in the mundane details of everyday life the crux of American gothic? Doesn’t the dark side seem to be winning most of the time in Jackson’s work?

Oates: In individuals who find themselves powerless in life—like women, in general, before they were “given” the vote—there is always an interest in the occult since it circumnavigates the actual bastions of power. You will not find many men in high office—men with political/ financial power—who have an interest in witchcraft, for instance. Jackson was of this sort—she so lacked personal power, the (feminist) possibility of a subversive sort of power would engage her. Of course, this supernaturalism shades into fantasy, and this fantasy shades into mental illness, in some. The artist speculates on these matters without—ideally—sinking into them.

LOA:In the 1950s Shirley Jackson’s work seemed to appear everywhere: The New Yorker, McCalls, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s Bazaar, and The Ladies’ Home Journal, among others. In fact, Linda Wagner-Martin seemed to be referring to Jackson’s ubiquity, rather than her influence, when she called the fifties “the decade of Jackson” in The Mid-Century American Novel. Lenemaja Friedman closes her book-length critical study of Jackson with “Miss Jackson is not, however, a major writer; and the reason is . . . that she saw herself primarily as an entertainer, as an expert storyteller and craftsman.” Why is being entertaining held in such low regard? Is Jackson’s work too diverse to be properly appreciated?

Oates: These questions of the canon are very broad. To be a “major” writer one must write “ambitious” novels, probably—one must cover a larger terrain than Jackson, O’Connor, Welty set out to do. One could not possibly suggest that Flannery O’Connor, for instance, is as “great” a writer as William Faulkner; but they are each excellent, in their own scale. A single nocturne by Chopin may be as exquisite as a Beethoven symphony, though its very brevity/smallness would probably preclude it being “great.” Such questions of canon—and scale—are matters of debate.

LOA:When did you first discover Shirley Jackson? Has her work influenced yours? Do you have any favorites in this collection?

Oates: One of my very favorite Jackson stories was an utter surprise to me—”Janice”—written when Jackson was an undergraduate at Syracuse University. It’s a gem, and previously uncollected. I also very much admire “The Intoxicated” and “The Daemon Lover.” Originally, it was “The Lottery” which I’d first read, as a girl, and very much liked. I don’t think that Jackson can be an “influence” on anyone—she was too quirkily original.

LOA:Jackson wrote many other works: two memoirs, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons; four novels, The Road Through the Wall, Hangsaman, The Bird’s Nest, and The Sundial; and several dozen stories. Might there be another Shirley Jackson Library of America volume?

Oates: It is possible that a second volume of the Library of America Shirley Jackson could be assembled, but I am certain that this volume contains the very best work, and certainly the very, very best short stories.

Explore Further

Related Writers:

Related Volumes:

Guest reviewer Bridget Lutherborrow takes on Henry James’ famous critical essay, ‘The Art of Fiction’ (1884). (NB. This doesn’t mean that Patrick Lenton has skipped a book in the challenge. He is firmly committed to reading all 339 books and will continue to read them meticulously in alphabetical order.)

In Gilmore Girls, aka the best show ever written, bright-eyed Rory Gilmore is continually seen reading a wide array of books. Whether in preparation for Harvard or for her time at Yale, she is always improving herself via literature.

Juxtapose this with Patrick Lenton, who found himself re-reading The Wheel of Time for the seventeenth time, grimly hoping the ingrained misogyny might somehow disappear if he just believed hard enough. What happened to his days of challenging himself? What about that one time he read Moby Dick and felt good for eight years? Patrick decided to take a leaf out of Rory’s books and read Rory’s books.

#10: ‘The Art of Fiction’ by Henry James

It wasn’t until my second full re-watch of Gilmore Girls this year that I actually understood what the show was even about. Like a senile old woman, I’d been all ‘Who are these people?’, ‘Who’s that jackass in the cap?’, ‘Where are my teeth?’

While I got intellectually that Lorelai was a young mother, I didn’t actually *get* why she was incapable of feeding her daughter anything other than out-of-date Pop-Tarts. Like, she was thirty-fucking-two: that’s fucking old.

But now, closer to thirty-fucking-two than the probably sixteen-years-old I was when I first encountered the show, I suddenly understand. No way I feel up to raising a teenage girl any time soon. Get that thing the hell out of my living room.

Which is how I imagine I might have felt about ‘The Art of Fiction’ had I ever tried to read it as a sixteen-year-old. The words would have made sense, but I just wouldn’t have been capable of relating them to my life.

The essay is no revelation today, but it does say some good stuff. For instance, that talking about the boundaries of genre is waaaay boring, and lame, and a waste of time. That a novel can be all sorts of things. That above all it should be interesting. Screw highbrow. Screw adventure. Screw everything. For a novel to be good someone should actually like it.

‘The Art of Fiction’ is basically a giant sassy letter from Henry James to critic Sir Walter Besant, who attempted to actually write down some basic rules of fiction. Pah pah and poo poo says Henry James. It’s all just a big ol’ stew of unrecognisable carcasses stirred around and served up in a paper cup. Who cares what’s in it as long as it tastes good!

Which is where the bit I never would have got at sixteen comes in: integration in fiction! James writes:

I cannot imagine composition existing in a series of blocks, nor conceive, in any novel worth discussing at all, of a passage of description that is not in its intention narrative, a passage of dialogue that is not in its intention descriptive, a touch of truth of any sort that does not partake of the nature of incident, or an incident that derives its interest from any other source than the general and only source of the success of a work of art – that of being illustrative.

And he’s right, because sentences that manage to both describe and propel action are so much less boring than sentences that only do one of those things. But I can’t help also think you have to start somewhere. Maybe learn how to describe good first and work your way up?

It has taken me to almost thirty-fucking-two to finally understand a TV show about a caffeine-addled mother-daughter duo quipping their privileged way through small-town life. As much as I love James’ dismissal of blatantly futile issues, I also wish he’d remembered to acknowledge this other fact: writing can be hard. It might take a while to *get* it.

* Read ‘The Art of Fiction’ online here.


Don’t miss the next round of The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, where Patrick Lenton returns to review Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Curious to see the full reading list? Here you go:

11.) The Art of War by Sun Tzu
12.) As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
13.) Atonement by Ian McEwan
14.) Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
15.) The Awakening by Kate Chopin
16.) Babe by Dick King-Smith
17.) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
18.) Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
19.) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
20.) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
21.) Beloved by Toni Morrison
22.) Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
23.) The Bhagava Gita
24.) The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
25.) Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
26.) A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
27.) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
28.) Brick Lane by Monica Ali
29.) Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
30.) Candide by Voltaire
31.) The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
32.) Carrie by Stephen King
33.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
34.) The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
35.) Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
36.) The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
37.) Christine by Stephen King
38.) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
39.) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
40.) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
41.) The Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
42.) A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
43.) Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
44.) The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
45.) Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
46.) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
47.) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
48.) Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac
49.) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
50.) The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
51.) The Crucible by Arthur Miller
52.) Cujo by Stephen King
53.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
54.) Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
55.) David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
56.) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
57.) The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
58.) Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
59.) Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
60.) Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
61.) Deenie by Judy Blume
62.) The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
63.) The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
64.) The Divine Comedy by Dante
65.) The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
66.) Don Quixote by Cervantes
67.) Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
68.) Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
69.) Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
70.) Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
71.) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
72.) Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
73.) Eloise by Kay Thompson
74.) Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
75.) Emma by Jane Austen
76.) Empire Falls by Richard Russo
77.) Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
78.) Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
79.) Ethics by Spinoza
80.) Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
81.) Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
82.) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
83.) Extravagance by Gary Krist
84.) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
85.) Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
86.) The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
87.) Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
88.) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
89.) The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
90.) Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
91.) The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
92.) Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
93.) Fletch by Gregory McDonald
94.) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
95.) The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
96.) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
97.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
98.) Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
99.) Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
100.) Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
101.) Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
102.) George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
103.) Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
104.) Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
105.) The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
106.) The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
107.) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
108.) Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
109.) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
110.) The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
111.) The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
112.) The Graduate by Charles Webb
113.) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
114.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
115.) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
116.) The Group by Mary McCarthy
117.) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
118.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
119.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
120.) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
121.) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
122.) Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
123.) Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
124.) Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
125.) Henry V by William Shakespeare
126.) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
127.) The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
128.) Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
129.) The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
130.) House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
131.) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
132.) How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
133.) How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
134.) How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
135.) Howl by Allen Ginsberg
136.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
137.) The Iliad by Homer
138.) I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
139.) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
140.) Inferno by Dante
141.) Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
142.) Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
143.) It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
144.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
145.) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
146.) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
147.) The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
148.) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
149.) Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
150.) The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
151.) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
152.) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
153.) Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
154.) The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
155.) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
156.) The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
157.) Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
158.) Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
159.) Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
160.) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
161.) Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
162.) The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
163.) The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
164.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
165.) Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
166.) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
167.) The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
168.) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
169.) The Love Story by Erich Segal
170.) Macbeth by William Shakespeare
171.) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
172.) The Manticore by Robertson Davies
173.) Marathon Man by William Goldman
174.) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
175.) Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
176.) Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
177.) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
178.) The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
179.) Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
180.) The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
181.) The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
182.) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
183.) The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
184.) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
185.) The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
186.) Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
187.) A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
188.) Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
189.) A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
190.) A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
191.) Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
192.) Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
193.) My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
194.) My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
195.) My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
196.) Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
197.) My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
198.) The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
199.) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
200.) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
201.) The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
202.) Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
203.) New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
204.) The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
205.) Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
206.) Night by Elie Wiesel
207.) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
208.) The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
209.) Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
210.) Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
211.) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
212.) Old School by Tobias Wolff
213.) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
214.) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
215.) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
216.) The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
217.) Oracle Night by Paul Auster
218.) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
219.) Othello by Shakespeare
220.) Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
221.) The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
222.) Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
223.) The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
224.) A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
225.) The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
226.) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
227.) Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
228.) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
229.) Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
230.) Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
231.) Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
232.) The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
233.) The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
234.) The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
235.) The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
236.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
237.) Property by Valerie Martin
238.) Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
239.) Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
240.) Quattrocento by James Mckean
241.) A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
242.) Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
243.) The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
244.) The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
245.) Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
246.) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
247.) Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
248.) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
249.) Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
250.) The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
251.) R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
252.) Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
253.) Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
254.) Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
255.) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
256.) A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
257.) A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
258.) Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
259.) The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
260.) Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
261.) Sanctuary by William Faulkner
262.) Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
263.) Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
264.) The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
265.) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
266.) Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
267.) The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
268.) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
269.) Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
270.) Selected Hotels of Europe
271.) Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
272.) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
273.) A Separate Peace by John Knowles
274.) Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
275.) Sexus by Henry Miller
276.) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
277.) Shane by Jack Shaefer
278.) The Shining by Stephen King
279.) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
280.) S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
281.) Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
282.) Small Island by Andrea Levy
283.) Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
284.) Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
285.) Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
286.) The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
287.) Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
288.) The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
289.) Songbook by Nick Hornby
290.) The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
291.) Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
292.) Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
293.) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
294.) Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
295.) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
296.) The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
297.) A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
298.) Stuart Little by E. B. White
299.) Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
300.) Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
301.) Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
302.) Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
303.) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
304.) Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
305.) Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
306.) Time and Again by Jack Finney
307.) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
308.) To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
309.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
310.) The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
311.) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
312.) The Trial by Franz Kafka
313.) The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
314.) Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
315.) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
316.) Ulysses by James Joyce
317.) The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
318.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
319.) Unless by Carol Shields
320.) Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
321.) The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
322.) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
323.) Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
324.) The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
325.) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
326.) Walden by Henry David Thoreau
327.) Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
328.) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
329.) We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
330.) What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
331.) What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
332.) When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
333.) Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
334.) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
335.) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
336.) The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
337.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
338.) The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
339.) The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


Bridget Lutherborrow is a fiction writer and PhD candidate who perhaps already has enough challenging things to read. Nevertheless, after rewatching seven seasons of caffeine-fuelled mother-daughter drama with RGRC regular Patrick, she’s decided to chip in and review a few things.

Patrick Lenton is a playwright, fiction writer and blogger, based in Sydney. He is into you. He blogs over at The Spontaneity Review, and likes to publish his stories in journals like Voiceworks, Best Australian Stories, TIDE and The Lifted Brow. He also edits a comedy writing anthology, The Sturgeon General.

Painting by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Henry James

book reviewscomedyfictiongilmore girlshenry jameswriting


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *