August 5, 2013


By Shirley Jackson
~4100 words

A man being followed through the streets of New York begins to wonder if he is paranoid.

Soon after the timid Halloran Beresford buys a box of chocolates for his wife on her birthday, he notices the man in the mustache and light-colored hat. He continues to see him at various points on his way home, despite going to extraordinary lengths to avoid him, at times feeling threatened and, at others, wondering if he is imagining the whole thing. When he arrives home, anxious and exhausted, his wife demonstrates concern over his appearance but then locks herself in the hallway, where he overhears her on the phone: "Listen, he came here after all. I've got him."

I thought this story was reasonably well written, boasting a good dose of tension and intrigue and some interesting psychological insights into the main character. I was disappointed in the ending, however, which seemed far too predictable, and the language is nothing to write home about.

Posthumous stories are kind of like that box of chocolates Halloran Beresford carries under his arm: as Forrest Gump famously quipped, you never know what you're gonna get. In the case of "Paranoia," we get a rich, tempting exterior aound a weak, flavorless center.


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