Throwback Thursday (07/19/12)

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Considering this is one of my favorite books and that I posted about Anne Rivers Siddon’s The House Next Door last week, I might have wanted to wait with posting about The Haunting of Hill House, but LitReactor did a Blagger’s Guide to  Shirley Jackson’s fiction last Friday and I now feel compelled.

Written in 1959, the premise of The Haunting of Hill House is a familiar one, though the familiarity is likely due to the influence of the novel. A group of diverse-personalitied characters gather at a supposedly haunted house in order to prove or debunk supernatural phenomena. Richard Matheson uses the same set up in his 1971 Hell House*. A similar plot, stay the night in a haunted house and win a large amount of money, is used in the Vincent Price vehicle The House on Haunted Hill**. This isn’t a far stretch since one of Jackson’s protagonists, shady Luke Sanderson, needs to prove that he’s worthy of inheriting the house. I can not deny it: it majorly influenced my first novel.

As I said, this is one of my favorite books. I first encountered mention of it in Stephan King’s Danse Macabre and found it the university’s library. I still remember remember reading it in my 5th floor college dorm room, the one that seemed a little haunted itself with occasional tapping noises from inside the closet (probably a fluke of the ventilation system, though tale has it that a  worker fell to his death from that corner of the building during construction–a tale I didn’t hear until years after I moved out of the room). The room was also opposite the stairway and, during a particularly tense moment in the book, I nearly jumped out of my skin as a particularly loud group of floor-mates exited the stairs. I’ve owned the book twice. I took it to Florida with me and managed to get it wet. The replacement was purchased at Powell’s bookstore in Portland. I reread it once every 2-3 years. I’ve picked apart scenes to see what makes them tick.

This is one of my favorite books. I wish there were more like it.

*Also recommended.
**Directed by William Castle, it’s a great movie if you love schlock horror. The 1999 remake directed by William Malone has some great spooky bits, but a poor ending.***
***Speaking of movies, The Haunting of Hill House has been filmed twice, both retitled The Haunting.  The first, released in 1963 and shot in black and white, is subtle with its horror and true to the book. Not schlocky at all. The remake, released in 1999, is pretty unscary despite a good cast and visually interesting special effects. Other than the premise, it’s not true to the book.

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