Monday, September 7, 2015

Short Notes: TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED by ROALD DAHL


For a long time, I thought of Roald Dahl only as the author of stories for children like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and so when my colleague exclaimed one day that she was fond of Dahl, I couldn't quite agree. It was only when Prashant reviewed a story called Lamb to the Slaughter at his blog that I realised that I had been a fool and that  Dahl had written such stories which I had admired over the years. So coming upon Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected was a real pleasure. And Dahl does not disappoint. Each of the story has a twist in the end, sometimes comic, sometimes ironic, at times even macabre and disturbing.



The stories, sixteen in all and published between 1954-1961, are as follows:


Taste has a lecherous wine connoisseur.

Lamb to the Slaughter has a wife cooking dinner for her husband.

The Man from the South lays a deadly bet.

My Lady Love, My Dove has the hosts eavesdropping on their guests

Dip in the Pool has a man jumping overboard.

In Galloping Foxley, a man encounters a bully from school.

In Skin, a man gets his back painted by a young man who eventually becomes a famous painter.

Neck is about a man and his adulterous wife.



In Nunc Dimittis, a man tries to revenge himself on a girl who he believes has belittled him.

In The Landlady, a man looking for a room encounters a strange landlady.

William and Mary has a man surviving his death as a one-eyed brain whom his wife takes special care of.

The Way up to Heaven has a woman tired of her sadist husband.

Parson's Pleasure has a man coming across an antique rarity.

Mrs. Bixby is given a mink coat by her lover but does she really get it in Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat?

A baby starts turning into a bee in Royal Jelly while in Edward the Conqueror, a woman is convinced that the cat that has strayed in her house is the reincarnation of musician,  Franz Liszt.



You like a twist in the tale? This is the book for you. Highly recommended.


*

First Line: There were six of us to dinner that night at Mike Schofield's house in London: Mike and his wife and daughter, my wife and I, and a man called Richard Pratt.

Publication Details: Camberwell: Penguin, 2008
First Published (in book form): 1979
Pages: 282
Soure: MCL [ 823 D137T C.1]



17 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved Lamb to the Slaughter and The Landlady, Neeru. And you've sorely tempted me to try some of Dahl's other short stories. Thanks :-)

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    1. I hope you read his other stories soon, Margot. Would love to read your views.

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  2. Neer, thanks for the mention — very kind of you. I have always enjoyed Roald Dahl's writing though I can't see why I don't read his stories more often. I noticed he is much popular in India.

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    1. You are most welcome Prashant. :)

      Why is it that nowadays we often do not read authors whom we like but run after discovering new ones? I face the same dilemma.

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  3. Couldn't agree more - Absolutely one of my favourite books Neeru - just a real treat!

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    1. Oh I am so glad Sergio that you love this one. I see that he has another volume called MORE TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED. Have you read that one too?

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  4. I've been a fan of Roald Dahl since JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. He's an underrated writer! Love his wicked short stories!

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    1. Thanks George for having a look. Yeah some of the stories were really wicked as you say. Do his stories for children too have a dark element?

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  5. When I was a teen Roald Dahl was my idol. I thought his adult stories were brilliant! And I still do. I wanted to write stories just like his. So I did. One of my English teachers read my story "Till Death Do Us Part" (wholly inspired by "The Way Up to Heaven") and encouraged me to pursue writing when I went to college. I think I owe a lot to Roald Dahl.

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    1. Trust you John to pick up the most disturbing story in the volume. Now I really want to read "Till Death Do Us Part".

      It's wonderful how some writers inspire us.

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  6. Wow, interesting. There is also a TV Series based on the story collection. I am planning to watch it.

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    1. Wow! Do let me know how you find it.

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  7. I have just recently been introduced to his short stories also, neer. I will have to find a copy of this book.

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    1. Oh do find and read this, Tracy. As Sergio puts it 'a real treat'.

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    2. Last night I ordered a copy, neer, and it will be coming soon. I look forward to reading some of the stories.

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  8. Lamb To The Slaughter is one I've read and LOVED it! I nned to read more of his. Great review!

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    1. Thanks Freda. Even I am keen to read more of him.

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