Sunday was spent ignoring domestic matters as I couldn’t put this book down. Straight off I would have to say that I don’t think it’s as good as ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’, but given the quality of the competition that’s hardly a criticism. A few things struck me about ‘The Haunting of Hill House’; first off it has a simply stunning beginning, which is also the end:
“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 for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Jackson uses repetition throughout the book, sometimes the effect is darkly comic, sometimes disorientating, and sometimes creepy, which pretty much sums up the whole book. I’m not yet well acquainted enough with American Gothic to get over the altogether foreign feel of it. The small town world encountered here, or even in ‘Peyton Place’ is dissimilar enough to not entirely translate into my English experience, close enough to understand, but different enough to make me wonder. One of the things I’m never really sure I can imagine properly is the sheer amount of space and isolation, the full weight of wooded hills pressing down in and around full of god knows what. The countryside I know, even at its wildest is much tamer, much more manageable, much smaller than that.
A good portion of my childhood was spent in a house which had a reputation for being haunted and I could recount plenty of ghost stories that the tellers (including me) swore where true. Looking back honestly there was only one occasion that I genuinely can’t explain, it took place in the middle of the day and it was more disconcerting than frightening, what could be frightening was that the house was on an Island, At its closest point we were only separated from the mainland by a few hundred yards, but in bad weather we were genuinely cut off and of course; nobody could hear you scream!