Completely Unexpected Tales – Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is an eccentric genius – not eccentric to the extent that Dali was, but he had some pretty weird thoughts. Dahl is best known for his children’s stories like ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, but he also wrote for adults. This was a collection of short stories – and they aren’t about picturesque chocolate rivers and candy boats. Some of them are truly creepy.
There are two things I love about Roald Dahl’s writing. One thing is how he can keep the suspense up, make you think one thing and then leap in horror when you comprehend what’s really happening. A true master of the plot. The other thing is his humor, often sarcastic, for example how he describes his characters. Here is an exert from his short story titled ”Nunc Dimittis”:
Gladys Ponsonby is an unusually short woman, certainly not more than four feet nine or ten, maybe even less than that – one of those tiny persons who gives me, when I am beside her, the comical, rather wobbly feeling that I am standing on a chair. She is a widow, a few years younger than me – maybe fifty-three or four, and it is possible that thirty years ago she was quite a fetching little thing. But now the face is loose and puckered with nothing distinctive about it whatsoever. The individual features, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the chin, are buried in the folds of fat around the puckered little face and one does not notice them. Except perhaps the mouth, which reminds me – I cannot help it – of a salmon.
Doesn’t this – especially the last sentence – give you a striking picture of what she looks like? I love it. My favorite short stories in this collection are ”The Landlady” and ”The Sound Machine” – both give me the creeps. Read!