Thursday, October 28, 2010

50. The Roald Dahl Omnibus

As I have previously revealed, one of my techniques to keeping the numbers up in this 50 Books game is to have a book of short stories going, where you read a story in between novels. This was the case with the Roal Dahl Omnibus which I picked up at a moving sale of an acquaintance. However, Dahl has such an enjoyable prose style and his stories are so intriguing that I would often end up reading two or even three stories in a row before turning out the light.

These are dark and sometimes even nasty little stories, but the twists are often quite subtle, gently slid in to the reading so you don't even realize they are there until the story comes to an end. I think my own expectations played a role, because I often was waiting for some big twist or climactic ending, a feeling I think spurred by the intrigue of the stories' set-ups. However, once I realized that there wasn't going to be a big bang of a reveal, I settled down to enjoy the subtler stuff going on underneath.

A lot of the stories tend to deal with an individual who has some behaviour trait or assumed understanding of the world who has it turned around often for the worse. Revenge hovers throughout many of the stories and a certain cruelty, more often than not to women. It is difficult, though, to categorize these stories, as there is such a range of situations and subject matters (though they are all contemporary and in the civilized english speaking world, generally of the middle and upper classes). Many of the stories were published in mainstream manly magazines of their time like Playboy and Esquire.

A very enjoyable read. My favourite story is Royal Jelly. You should read that one alone if you can.

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