“The Haunting of Hill House”, Shirley Jackson

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Admittedly when you’re talking about picking great quotes, I feel that this is low-hanging fruit. But it is a great quote, and I’m including it.

That is the opening to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, one of the great haunted house novels. It was published 58 years ago, in ’59. Shirley Jackson wrote 6 novels and well over a hundred stories. Odds are good that people in the North American school system at least were exposed to “The Lottery”, but if you’ve missed it, I recommend picking up “The Summer People“.

(I’m not explicitly picking opening quotes, by the way; I am just trending in a direction that avoids spoilers, and since a lot of the great quotes that resonate with me are beginnings or endings–which is part of why I’m taking Cat Rambo’s class on same this month–I’m mostly going to lean heavily towards beginnings.)

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Oddly awake.

Yesterday I was up until four in the morning. And then I was up and functional by eight. Somehow I’m still not tired. Admittedly there was a nap in there, but…

One of the people I write with a fair bit of the time is doing NaNoWriMo. It’s rough going so far (mind, that doesn’t mean much yet), but she’s doing it. I, meanwhile, have written the hundred words of fiction in trip fragments this week.

I mean, it’s just been Hallowe’en; I practically feel guilty about not trying. It’s the time of year for (proper Lovecraft) ghouls and curiously meaningful scratches and shapes standing in the dark in the still of your room and just watching you.

You think.

You can’t see their eyes, after all.

(Oh yes, this is absolutely going to help me get to sleep. Because I needed a chaser after reading a third of the way through the House of Fear anthology. It’s a nice mix; part actual ghosts and part haunted houses (which are subtly different, but I fear I repeat myself), with a side order of the weird.)

Beginning to get sleepy, at least.  The nice thing about the phone is that I can post in my room and don’t get distracted by the joys of the internet or the horror of the Sierra Madre. Much easier to lie down and go to sleep if you don’t need to tear yourself away from a computer motor.

(That’s the Sierra Madre from Fallout: New Vegas – Dead Money. Which is a quite well-done little horror story set in a haunted house… one which both corrupts its victims and is inhabited by ghosts, now that I think of it.)

Tomorrow I’ll try and get my books sorted, I suppose. And maybe I’ll hear back about work. The estimated start date just keeps creeping forward; at this point I’d be surprised if anything happened before Monday.