Friday, 23 March 2012

The hunger games, The lottery and other creepy stories

The hunger games had its New Zealand premiere on Wednesday night. I've read the series and liked the first book more than the next two, which felt a bit repetitive. "Liked" isn't exactly the word. I found the whole premise behind the hunger games gripping but almost too dystopic (is that a word?) Today while I was thinking about it, I was suddenly reminded of the American short story The lottery by Shirley Jackson, which was first published in the New Yorker in 1948 and is one of the creepiest stories I have ever read.

The lottery tells the story of what happens in a small village as children and adults gather for this annual event, meant to guarantee a good harvest. The head of each family first draws a slip of paper from a box; then each member of the chosen family has to draw another slip. Part of the horror of the story (which resulted in cancelled subscriptions for the New Yorker and sackfuls of hate mail for the author) lies in the very matter-of-fact way in which it is told. I won't say what happens next but you can read it here:

And on the subject of The hunger games, there's a fascinating guide to dystopian literature put out by Good reads, tracking its progress since the 1920s with a graph (tied in to world developments like WW2, the Cold War and 9/11) and descriptions of themes, and including classics like Brave new world and 1984:

You can ever view a very funny spoof Hunger games board game here ("where girls face their biggest fears: dating and death"):

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