Picks and Stones

Let he or she who is without a “winning” slip cast the worst stone: it’s Lottery day in the Macabre Republic!

June 27th is the date of the eponymous annual ritual in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (first published 71 years ago today). The story (which I featured in a Mob Scene post last year) is an American Gothic shocker: “a chilling tale of conformity gone mad,” as newscaster Kent Brockman succinctly describes Jackson’s narrative during one notable episode of The Simpsons (season 3’s “Dog of Death”). Jackson stages a neo-pagan scapegoating ceremony, an unnerving public drawing that sanctions murder in the seeming interest of crop fertility (“lottery in June, corn be heavy soon”). Her story is an indisputable classic, as timely today as when it first appeared seven decades ago, and should be read every year on this date as a primer on the dark underside of the so-called greater good.

And if you are looking to dig a little deeper into the story and its background, check out these links and video below:

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