As soon as I was finished writing this post, I came across an article about PRISM and the NSA in The New York Review of Books. The article mentions that the recent media frenzy regarding domestic surveillance programs has lead to a spike in sales of George Orwell’s novel 1984. According to the article’s author, James Bamford, “On Amazon.com, the book made the ‘Movers & Shakers’ list and skyrocketed 6,021 percent in a single day.” Impressive.
After reading this, I couldn’t help but think a correlation exists between the increase in sales of 1984 and Shirley Jackson’s revival. To paraphrase Stephen King in Danse Macabre (very loosely, sorry I don’t have a copy handy to quote from directly), about every twenty years–and certainly after an economic downturn or political strife–the horror genre experiences something of a resurrection.
2013 has all the right ingredients for a horror novel comeback. Economic strife, check. Political surveillance scandal, check. Popularity surge of 1984, check. And this week, The New Yorker published a newly released Shirley Jackson short story appropriately entitled Paranoia.
Coincidence? I think not; more like the magazine has it’s finger on the pulse of the American consciousness–one that is constantly looking over its shoulder.