From “The Boy Who Talked With Animals”: Not so long ago, I decided to spend a few days in the West Indies. It was to go there for a short holiday. Friends had told me it was marvelous. I would laze around all day long, they said, sunning myself on the silver beaches and swimming in the warm green sea.
I love this collection of short stories by Roald Dahl. From a boy who helps a giant turtle, a cunning hitchhiker, a man who can see with his eyes closed, and a luck plowman, these stories are all marvelous. Some of the stories are actually true, and the book also includes the story of how Roald Dahl became a writer. I love all the stories in this book, except one: “The Swan”. It’s not witty, it’s not humorous, it’s not sly. It’s just sad, about two hooligans who have some fun at another boy’s expense. I suppose the ending is supposed to be uplifting, but it just wasn’t. There’s so much killing, and brutality, and it’s really quite scary. However, the rest of the stories are sheer genius.
One of my favorite stories is definitely “The Hitchhiker”. It’s really entertaining, and really funny, and really interesting too. It’s one of those stories that are about defying an authority figure. In the case of Matilda, it’s about defying the adults. Here, it’s about defying the police. I think everyone likes to read about a little subversion now and then.
The title story is the longest, and also really good. Henry Sugar is a rich, sleazy, guy who’s never done a day’s work in his life. But then he discovers a little booklet, and teaches himself to see with his eyes closed. What’s more, he can see through cards, so he wins every time at gambling. But will he use his power for personal gain, or for good? “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is probably the most meaningful of the stories, with the most powerful lesson. It is really entertaining too.
“The Mildenhall Treasure” is actually a true story (I actually saw the treasure at the British Museum a few years ago). Roald Dahl interviewed Butcher, one of the people involved in the discovery, and composed a short piece on it, included here. “Lucky Break” is the story of how Roald Dahl became a writer. “A Piece of Cake” is the first piece he ever composed (no play on words intended). “The Boy Who Talked With Animals” is the story of…well, a boy who can talk with animals. All of these stories are amazing.
Roald Dahl, as well as being known for his children’s books, is also known for his short stories. I’m planning to read them, in a whopping book of nearly 900 pages. I’m looking forward to it. I might also reread some of his children’s books.
Read The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More:
- if you like Roald Dahl
- if you like funny and interesting short stories
|Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!|