So a librarian at Santa Clara University gave me a treat this long holiday weekend. In the “fiction browsing” section I discovered Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle from 1962, apparently her last published novel. It is wonderfully written. I love a novel where the writing itself is part of your reading experience. She repeats herself, elliptically, adding to the disorientation. She is fully aware of the context a reader might bring, of a ghost story, and so she hints, with care, at how her characters could, indeed, be witches. But they are not. Instead, it is an intense portrait of an awkward relationship between the two sisters. It is a novel about the daydream and the reality of withdrawal. For an introvert, it is perfect. Very little is communicated, much is observed.
How lovely, then, that right upon finishing Jackson’s novella, I start reading Colm Tóibín’s The Master… which seems, at first, to be also an historical novel about an introvert.