‘One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts’ by Shirley Jackson

Now there’s even a biopic about her (haven’t seen it), and I think Shirley Jackson is pretty widely recognised as a brilliant, major writer. But for a long time, it seemed like she was ‘The Lottery’ and that was about it. Of course, ‘The Lottery’ is a great, great story and deserves all the huzzahs it gets. I could have included that one here, too, and been stoned to death a happy man. But just to be interesting (“Too late!” you moan) may I offer for your consideration ‘One Ordinary Day…’.

It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s clever, it’s funny, it’s profound and just a little bit disturbing… all the things that Jackson was so good at stirring together. It’s only about the origin of good and evil in the world – kind of. Read ‘The Lottery’ if you’ve never done so, by all means (and drop a copy of The Haunting of Hill House into your shopping basket while you’re at it.) But sit back and enjoy the Jacksonian whimsy of ‘One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts’.

First published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1955, and collected in Jackson’s (posthumous) Just an Ordinary Day, Bantam, 1996

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