An Afternoon in Linen, Shirley Jackson
Until I went to the USA in 2019 I hadn’t heard of Shirley Jackson. Then, in one of those pleasant, idle conversations over lunch, my daughter-in-law recommended her. It didn’t take me long to discover she is huge over there: everyone to whom I mentioned her told me, with a slight swoon in their voice, about their favourite of her novels or stories. And when, in City of Asylum, I asked a sales assistant for the isle in which to look for a book of hers, I made a friend for life. She not only went and got all the books they had by her, and all the books they had about her, she sat and talked me through them. I felt quite guilty about buying only one, but I had to think of my luggage allowance.
The book I chose is a comprehensive volume that contains her short story collection, The Lottery; two short novels; twenty-one other, uncollected, stories; and an essay. And one of the short stories it includes is ‘An Afternoon in Linen’ which, in the link The Guardian gives us for day 8 of its Literary Diet is delightfully read by Kristen Roupenian for a New Yorker podcast.
The podcast is forty-eight minutes, but the reading is only about ten, so if you don’t have much time you can skip the discussion part (as I did!) and sit with a cup of tea and a biscuit for a quick literary refresh. It’s well worth it!
Afterwards, you can ponder the woman Harriet is likely to grow up to be.
Day 9: Under Milk Wood
Dylan Thomas’s play for voices is The Guardian’s choice for day 9. Unfortunately the link they give takes you to Audible who say, ‘We’re really sorry, this product isn’t available.’
I didn’t bother to look for it elsewhere because it’s long been one of my favourites, and I’ve spent many a happy afternoon lounging in the garden* listening to it.
For my birthday, in April, D has booked a cottage near Thomas’s Boat House, goodness knows if we’ll be able to go!
*of my old house, I don’t have a garden here, irritatingly
Day 10: Tom Lehrer, Pollution
The link The Guardian provides takes you to a site where you can read and download both the text and sheet music, which doesn’t quite cut it with me. So I found this video on You Tube. I’m sure it will amuse some of you!