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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Shirley Jackson Element

We're halfway through the week, only three days into August, and so far I'm very not impressed. Not only has my country opted to head toward the conditions that brought the French Revolution, but local news is bad too.

A young woman who worked at the pizza place I love was killed and her body left a ways from a back road by her boyfriend/crack dealer. An 11 year-old New Hampshire girl was found dead after a long search for her. Nobody's saying how she came to be in the Connecticut River, as the last time she was seen was at her computer in her bedroom.

All of New England is a little strange, but this area at this time of year is unsettling. For many years now my friend Stevil and I have noted what we called, "The Summer Sacrifice."- sometime between now and the end of September, a woman's body is found floating in the Connecticut River. Over the years, there have only been 3 summers when this didn't happen (There are also two women who have been missing for ten years, a mother and daughter:

As the states go, we have a low homicide rate. But when they happen, everyone notices for just that reason.
And there is often a weirdness to the murder. Archer Mayor gets a lot of inspiration here.

One of my favorite writers, Shirley Jackson, wrote her stories while living in Vermont. Tales like The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Lottery were wild and scary to me when I read them in my teens. Having lived here for 16+ years now, I understand how she came to write them. There's something a little off, a bit enigmatic. People blame "ley lines" or the inordinate number of the mentally ill for the bizarro vibe. I blamed the Morris Dancers for a long time. :) It's tough to describe this feeling, this uneasiness... but it is central to the region. And conducive to disturbing fiction, if you go by  Jackson's works. I suppose disturbing fact has that effect.

Update: The autopsy performed on the young girl has not concluded a cause of death:

1 comment:

Rory Grant said...

I think you're onto something with the 'Morris Dancers'. I've never trusted them.