Title: Collected Short Stories
Author: Roald Dahl
Page Count/Review Word Count: 762
This doesn’t actually contain all of Dahl’s short stories, despite the title. Instead, it’s a bind-up of five different books, three of which I’d already read, and so I’ll follow my usual format for these and share my reviews of each of them.
The stories in this collection are dark, just like how I like it. In fact, we start off with one in which a crazed landlady is basically slowly luring people to her boarding house that she can stuff them in a form of human taxidermy.
The madness continues from there, and there are some delightfully disturbing stories which are not only not suitable for kids but also probably best avoided unless you’re into horror and psychological thrillers.
Because of that, we get to see another side of Dahl that we don’t really see anywhere else, and so that makes this one reading for that alone. As with any short story collection, it has its ups and downs and a few stories that I didn’t particularly care for, but overall I have to say that it was a pleasant surprise even considering I had reasonably high expectations.
Over to You:
This collection of Roald Dahl’s short stories all take place during the Second World War. Dahl himself had some experience in the struggle, but he explains right at the start of the book that the stories here aren’t based on his real life experiences. I’m sure they were inspired by them, but the names, faces and places had been changed and I mean there was a story or two which were downright supernatural.
Overall, the stories here were okay, but I actually found myself getting bored during the air combat scenes, and I would have thought that they’d be the fun parts. I’m also not really sure that I’d recommend reading this over some of Dahl’s non-fiction memoirs about his role in the war. Oh, and there were a few racist-ish bits that might make you uncomfortable.
A lot of this book was dated and it has a few problematic things such as one of the characters saying that Egyptians don’t wash enough. But then he was supposed to be an unlikeable character, and so I’m pretty sure that Dahl did that for dramatic effect.
What’s interesting here is the subject matter and the nature of these stories. They’re specifically for adults as opposed to being written for kids like most of Dahl’s work, and they were originally published in Playboy Magazine.
Still, I enjoyed it, and I definitely think it’s worth picking up, especially because it’s so unusual to read Dahl writing for adults. It’s a bit of an eye opener and if you ask me, it’s a testament to his skill.
Someone Like You:
You will have Adele’s song stuck in your head the entire time that you’re reading this, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Someone Like You is a fantastic collection of short stories, and unlike the work that Mr. Dahl is most well-known for, it’s definitely not one for kids.
See, the stories are dark, and I like that – subject matter includes a bet in which a man could lose his finger, a man who’s almost driven mad by his sound machine (which records even the cries of plants and trees when they’re uprooted), and even a man who’s terrified that he’s about to be bitten by a poisonous spider. That story features some casual racism towards the end, but because it’s from a character and from a time when it was much more common, that’s Dahl forgiven.
Two other stories of note include The Great Automatic Grammatizator, a machine which resembles a giant computer and which can spit out short stories and novels at a speed and standard that no other writer could keep up with, and a longer set of stories which are grouped under the title of ‘Claud’s Dog‘, and which are loosely linked together and which left me feeling a little confused, although the ending was fantastic.
Eight Further Tales of the Unexpected
I’m assuming that this is the sequel to an earlier Tales of the Unexpected book, but I haven’t read that yet. If it’s anything like the stories in this one though, then I’m definitely in for a treat when I get to it. It’s basically like the Twilight Zone, except that it’s written by Roald Dahl, who’s a dab hand. Awesome!
Learn more about Collected Short Stories.