‘The Night We All Had Grippe’ by Shirley Jackson

The Night We All Had Grippe by Shirley Jackson, 1952

The magic trick:

Comedically setting up the story as a puzzle or mystery

Today, we get the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories from Shirley Jackson.

Which is charming. I guess?

I actually find it all a bit disgusting for some reason. Perhaps it’s the Jackson family’s method of medicating when gripped by the grippe being brandy and cigarettes.

Regardless, the story is fun in its way of presenting itself as a puzzle. It invites the reader in to participate in finding a solution for the family. Will you find one? No, probably not. But is it fun? Sure.

And that’s quite a trick on Jackson’s part.

The selection:

We are none of us, however, capable of solving the puzzles we work up for ourselves in the oddly diffuse patterns of our several lives (who is, now I think of it?); and along with such family brain-teasers as, “Why is there a pair of roller skates in Mommy’s desk?” and, “What is really in the back of Laurie’s closet?” and, “Why doesn’t Daddy wear the nice shirts Jannie picked out for Father’s Day?” we are all of us still wondering nervously about what might be called The Great Grippe Mystery. As a matter of fact, I should be extremely grateful if anyone could solve it for us, because we are certainly very short of blankets, and it’s annoying not to have any kind of answer. Here, in rough outline, is our puzzle:


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