Tuesday, 7 May 2002

Lotsa Dahl

Listening to:

Mozart, Don Giovanni. Probably my favourite Mozart opera. No, wait; probably my favourite opera, full-stop.

Just read:

Roald Dahl, Matilda.

This is another children’s book that I surreptitiously added to my reading schedule in flagrant defiance of the List rules. It didn’t take long to read. Sadly though, it wasn't as good as The BFG, which I also read recently. The BFG is full of humour, but I found this relatively humourless. The villain was both too normal (a primary school teacher) and unrealistic (picking up children by their hair and throwing them à la Olympic hammer). The good guys were also too good and smarmy. This book apparently won some sort of prize, but my cynical mind suggests that this was because it glorifies reading, or because the author was getting on a bit and about to die, or for both reasons.

Roald Dahl, Complete tales of the unexpected.

I believe this is a reprint of something that was originally published as Collected short stories, or something similar. Anyway, it’s basically an omnibus edition of Kiss, kiss, Over to you, Switch bitch, and Someone like you, with another eight miscellaneous stores also thrown in for good measure.

Inevitably, some of the many stories are better than others, but a fair summary would be that they’re all pretty good, and some are excellent. Most of them are stories about relatively normal situations, but with quirky premises or unexpected endings. The stories from Over to you are something of an exception to this, being short stories involving RAF pilots during WW2. Most of these are tragic, and elegaic in tone, reminding me a little of Catch-22. The other stories are a nice mix of humour and nasty twists. Good stuff.

Now reading:

Robert Hughes, Shock of the new.