Sunday, September 13, 2009

Life Among the Savages: The House

Excerpted from Shirley Jackson's very excellent "Life Among the Savages": 

"...all these things, the ones that had been in the house before, and other things which had been in similar old houses and knew their ways, fell naturally into good positions in the rooms as though snatching the best places before the city furniture could crowd in. No matter how much we wanted to set our overstuffed chairs on either side of the living room fireplace, an old wooden rocker...insisted upon pre-empting the center of the hearth rug and could not in human kindness be shifted. An old highboy, a contemporary of the rocker though it had come from a barn across town, took over the living room corner near the rocker and the two of them lived there in silent companionship.

After a few vain attempts at imposing our own angular order on things with a consequent out-of-jointness and shrieking disharmony that set our teeth on edge, we gave in to the old furniture and let things settle where they would.

An irritation persisted in one particular spot in the dining room, a spot which would hold neither table nor buffet and developed an alarming sag in the floor when I tried to put a radio there, until I found completely by accident that this place was used to a desk and would not be comfortable until I went out and found a spindly old writing table and set a brass inkwell on it..."
                                           - Shirley Jackson, Life Among the Savages, 1948