You Got Lucky

Friday at last.

This was a six day work week for me, which is why this week feels like it has lasted for fucking ever. 

I am looking forward to having two full days off this weekend AND being home. I have made a monster to-do list for Saturday, so that I can get everything that needs to be done over and finished so Sunday can simply be a day of relaxing, reading, and revising. Huzzah!

My reread of The Haunting of Hill House continues. I am going really slowly, and savoring her words and sentence structure, as well as marveling at the genius of Shirley Jackson. Take this paragraph, when Eleanor first sees Hill House:

No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice. Almost any house, caught unexpectedly or at an odd angle, can turn a deeply humorous look on a watching person; even a mischievous little chimney, or a dormer like a dimple, can catch up a beholder with a sense of fellowship; but a house arrogant and hating, never off guard, can only be evil. This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head against the sky without concession to humanity. It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house; Hill House should stay as it was until it was destroyed.

I should have turned back at the gate, Eleanor thought.

If I ever wrote a paragraph half that good, I could die happy.

See what genius it is? Note that not once does she describe the house at all; she gives the reader absolutely no guidance into what Hill House actually looks like. Instead, she just describes the reaction to seeing it for the first time; even going into a little sidebar about houses that look pleasant and inviting. Instead, she allows the reader to try to find, in their imagination, what Hill House actually looks like.

And to give credit where its due, when Robert Wise originally filmed the book in the early 1960’s, his stand-in for Hill House was pretty creepy.


But a lot of that is actually the cinematography; this house wouldn’t look creepy at all in color and with proper lighting.

It can even be made to look worse:


There’s no way in hell I’d go anywhere near that place in the night. In the dark.

But it is certainly much closer to what Jackson describes above than the house depicted on the edition of the book I am currently rereading:


That house isn’t in the least bit terrifying, or scary.

God. how I love this book.

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