This may well be my favorite comma in all of literature. It’s not grammatically necessary; you might, if you were so inclined (I’m not), argue that it’s incorrect. But here it is, the last breath of the paragraph, and I like to think that it’s SJ’s way of saying, “This is your last chance to set this book down and go do something else, like work in your garden or go down the street for an ice cream cone. Because from this point on it’s just you, and me, and whatever it is that walks, and walks alone, in Hill House.” I don’t think that anyone’s going anywhere. Right?
We asked Random House copy chief Ben Dreyer to annotate the eerily memorable and exceptionally well-constructed first paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and it’s just marvelous.
Supposedly haunted by the 20 “witches” who were put to death in 1692 and 1693 during the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is a popular destination for those fascinated by the paranormal and morbid. Some of the “witches” are said to haunt the place they were hanged, Gallow Hills, while other supposedly haunt other areas in the town. One of the must see sights is the House of Seven Gables, pictured above.
The door is rusted shut. It also has no knob and isn't real. None of these doors are. What, did you think we'd let you in any of these doors? Fucking idiot.
This door requires an absurdly specific key only obtainable by doing an absurd puzzle. Why is everything in this building fucking locked?
Resident Evil 4:
Just kick the door in half. You don't give a fuck. Fuck this guy's house, it's my house now.
Go print out some words on a stone printer. They're like keycards. But rocks.
Rule of Rose:
Some little fucker is going to shut the door on you. What a prick.
I hope you like scrabble.
Dino Crisis 2:
It seems that someone misplaced a large vehicle into this door. Go find a key in a pond to open the other door.
Hey I hope you like doing silly puzzles because here's a clock, go ahead and input that time you read about earlier.
Left 4 Dead:
I mean, yeah, that door opens, but the hunter behind it isn't going to make things easier for you. Oops, it was just a horde.
Well that door's right fucked, innit? You see those boxes over there? You know what to do.
Same as above but with Mr. Struts on your ass the entire time.
If it's a locked door, you're gonna need a keycode. Hope you're ready to fight the burer behind it. The pseudogiant, too.
There's a lobsterman behind that door. Don't open it. Don't even open the sub door. There's lobstermen out there. Time to leave.
You're going to have to go into some guy's memories and make it so that he doesn't get dead to get through this door. Or maybe a bear's memories. Awesome.
OPEN DOOR. OPEN THAT DOOR. OPEN KITCHEN DOOR. OPEN DOOR. OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR AAAAAA JESUS CHRIST RIO PLEASE I BEG OF YOU OPEN THE DOOR
Echo Night Beyond:
Look through some really slow moving cameras until you figure out what you need to open the door, then proceed to immediately make a mad dash for the items while a ghost of a little girl kinda jogs towards you in an apparently immensely threatening fashion because your heart rate is literally breaking 300 bpm whenever she's within 3 feet of you.
Every town has one. The house on the haunted hill all the kids avoid. Now that Jason was buried in the earth, it would only be a matter of time until something poisonous bloomed; in that long, cold shadow cast by his death. Whatever grew in the rich black soil of the Blossoms’ garden always found its way into the town. Whether it was murder or love, or secrets… or lies.
Every town has one. The House on The Haunted Hill all the kids avoid. Now that Jason was buried in the earth, it would only be a matter of time until something poisonous bloomed. In that long, cold shadow cast by his death. Whatever grew in the rich black soil of the Blossom’s garden always found its way to the town. Whether it was murder, or love, or secrets, or lies.