Thursday, October 31, 2013

Good Story 071: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Julie can't sleep because of the incessant pounding while Scott won't let Mrs. Dudley clear the table. Both are terrified while they discuss The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

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  1. Ah so great, simply the best psychological horror novel. Such a talented writer and so versatile.

    I only read the novel for the first time a couple of years back. It is the movie based on the book that I have seen multiple times. I remember the first time I saw it as a kid - so scary without any horror movie tropes. Quite a good adaptation. Plus the movie totally holds up.

    As for Pinchot the series you were trying to remember was "Perfect Strangers". He did the narration for Larry Correia The Grimnoir Chronicles and as a voice actor I was blown away. I will have to get the Halloween Tree with his narration.

    As for Frank Muller I can totally agree with Scott. Muller did the narration for some of the Dark Tower books book two on. When the audiobooks went back to the originator narrator I was more than annoyed, until I found out about the motorcycle crash.

    As for haunted house books I recently read "Hell House" from the great Richard Matheson who died this year. That book was also rather scary and also disturbing in parts. Evil is rather palpable with since evil can't create it blasphemes. Matheson always had the ability to take an idea and totally sell it. There was always such humanness to his characters and a dimension that made them come more alive. There was always also a bit of a psycho-sexual dimension that at times was rather surprising for the era he wrote in. Like the Haunting of Hill House, the movie version of Hell House was also quite good and fairly close to the book - Matheson wrote the screenplay.

    1. I already was interested in The Grimnoir Chronicles after your Goodreads review and looking for more of Pinchot's narrations I saw it pop up again. I feel it is fate and only waiting for another monthly Audible credit is keeping me from instantly purchasing it!

      I was so traumatized by Matheson's depressing "I Am Legend" that whenever I see his name I shy like a frightened pony. (Or something.) You almost tempt me though. Almost. :-D

  2. I just read this myself for the first time a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I look at it as much the same as "Turn Of The Screw" where it's not just wondering if there is something sinister sneaking in or if the character is just crazy- no, the correct solution is both are right. This is why I think Jackson doesn't let us into the other characters' heads after the beginning, because we know what Eleanor doesn't and that is that these people have just as many screws loose as she does. She was just the weakest of the bunch.

    Luke's reaction at the end was fascinating to me. It's like he (more than anyone else) hated Eleanor for having to do a good deed when he saved her and wanted her gone because she reminded him of his "mistake". Luke spends the whole story trying to act the part and when his image is fractured, in a good way of all things, he can't handle it. Of the four, he's the one that went through the least amount of actual mental anguish and can't seem to find value even in the fact that he saved someone. Then it dawned on me that nothing much happened to him because he's already the most crumbled of all four.

    Montague's wife came off to me that she was more interested in "Planchette" than her actual husband. I do wonder if that was why Dr. Montague was so obsessed with studying the paranormal. He certainly appeared more than a little driven than I expected where he doesn't even notice how the house is affecting others.

    Thanks for choosing this book! I might not have gotten around to reading it otherwise, and boy would I have missed out.

    By the way, in "Turn Of The Screw" I'm fairly certain Henry James intent was that there were apparitions AND she was crazy. The boy's reaction at the end of the story sealed that for me.

    1. That was how I felt at the end of The Turn of the Screw also, though I tended to go more with HAUNTED! GHOSTS!!!!! ... than with the governess being crazy. Although, I suppose that, like Eleanor, the ghosts may have been the final straw that pushed her over the edge. I should relisten ... my only way of getting through it was when CraftLit did it a long time ago. About the time that Jesse and Scott read it for SFFaudio, actually.

      I never, ever in a million years paid that much attention to Luke. Thank you so much for bringing him to my attention. I'm going to reread the end of the book now, paying more attention to him. I was so astounded at the changes I saw in Mrs. Montague's character that I was focused on that more than anything. Now that I think of it, did she embrace Planchette since her husband was so interested in the occult? (And thus we turn the tables ... Jackson, you genius.) Also, I loved Luke's playboy character and so was just skimming over the surface ... just as Jackson wanted me to, I suppose.

    2. I'm glad I could help. Throughout the whole finale I kept wondering why Luke was driving me insane more than any other character. He just acted so strange to me, even through Eleanor's freakout and Mrs. Montague's odd turn.

      On another note, for Halloween I watched "The Stand" miniseries (since I haven't been able to get the time to sit down and read it) and had a question since both of you have read it. It might have been different in the book so I have to ask.

      Does the Trashman switch sides at the end?

      The reason I ask is because after he blows up the plane in the airfield he is doing nothing but crying "I'm so sorry!" over and over after the visions of his past returned (after Flagg told him they wouldn't) and when he is seen with the bomb and saying "All for you" he isn't looking at Flagg (because he can't "see too well" as he tells Heindrick) and as God's Hand appears on the bomb he's already raising his hands up and saying "All for you!" louder than before. Other than Ralph and Larry, he's the only one who knows what it is.

      It's just an observation I had and I wondered if there was any validity to it since the book could be very different in description. But the Trashman was the one villain I felt sorry for (other than Harold near the end) and wondered if there was more to him than what we are seeing.

      Either way, the core story was great.

    3. Sorry it took me so long to swing by here! :-)

      No the Trashman never switches sides. When he says, "All for you" is is meant specifically for Flagg and King makes that really clear in the book. I need to watch the miniseries, though now I know ahead of time I will be annoyed over that ambiguity. I agree that Trashy was a pitiable villain. Maybe that is what made me notice that one moment when he's waiting for the bombs to go off at the airport and ... he realizes he could stop, change it, make another choice. But that moment slips by and he is lost. Very similar, now that I think of it, to Gollum in Lord of the Rings when he returns from worshiping Shelob and sees Sam and Frodo asleep. His moment of tenderness is the most we have seen of the true Smeagol ... of course that moment is lost when Sam awakes and, quite rightly, asks what sneaking he's been doing. It is a pity, that moment, because it feels like tragedy. But Smeagol is too weak to take advantage of his better impulse. (Can you tell I'm on the home stretch of The Lord of the Rings right now? haha!)

    4. Oh wow, that actually makes much more sense now! Thanks!

      I always equated Harold to Gollum, but Trashman had the same dilemma and I probably should have noticed it except for the obvious problem. In the book you get a sense of the character's thoughts, but in a visual form they have to make it apparent with movements and speech. The Trashman says little other than "All for you" and talking about the "city of gold" so it was hard to get a grasp on where he was coming from without actually being in his head. No wonder it took so long to adapt!

      Thank you for the clarification, it definitely makes more sense now.

  3. I never thought of Harold as being like Gollum, though I can definitely see it now that you say it. I'd almost equate him with Boromir (without the redemption) or Denethor who pig-headedly persists in choosing wrongly to the very end ... except that neither of them are characters who we travel along with much in their development.