It's no secret that I love Shirley Jackson. I have been known to engage reviewers about what I consider to be less than awesome ratings for The Haunting of Hill House and/or We Have Always Lived in the Castle. One of the things I'm always honest about is books, and despite the fact that this book was written by Shirley, I wasn't crazy about it.
I was aware going in that this was not a collection of horror tales, though certainly, some of them are horrific. Even so, I didn't find a point to a lot of these tales. I liken them to someone peeking into the window of a normal American family-it's mostly boring. One or two of them (The Tooth, for sure), were just plain weird.
However, a few of these tales have serious subjects without seeming to-a few of them are outright diatribes on racism-without stating the word and without personal commentary. The fact that some of these families were so racist and didn't even realize it was commentary enough. I also found that a few stories seemed to be about the place of women in society, which was quite different in the 40s as compared to now. Lastly, a few of these stories were horror, in my opinion, The Lottery the most well known and the most horrific.
There is a whole 'nother thing going on with James Harris, a character that is featured in some of these stories. There's some talk in blogging communities about who he is, exactly, and what his presence symbolized. I don't pretend to have a complete handle on the whole thing, but it deserves a mention.
Overall, this was a well written collection, (from Shirley Jackson we would expect no less), but I found it to be slightly confusing at times and overall, I was not completely satisfied with this collection.