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4.0 out of 5 starsA Tribute to Roald Dahl's Caliber as a Writer
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 10 April 2019
As we peruse this collection of short stories by Roald Dahl, we find a diabolic thread running just below the veneer of the ordinary. “Skin” is one example as are “Lamb to the Slaughter” and “The Landlady”.
Another facet of the collection is that some of the stories in it have endings that are ironical or unexpected. Indeed, the author has been called an “... absolute master of the twist-in-the-tale”. The stories with such a twist are, for example, “Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”, “The Champion of the World”, and “Parson’s Pleasure”.
Dahl has been criticised for a sexist attitude in some of his writings, but taken as a whole, his work embraces the broader complexities. In tales like “Lamb to the Slaughter” and “The Last Act”, the writer’s sympathies are clearly with the woman in the story. In another story called “The Visitor”, there is a twist in the tale wherein the philandering protagonist gets a nasty shock. In “Neck”, it is the woman who is the philanderer and it is a tribute to Dahl’s calibre as a storyteller that he conveys the twist in this tale through innuendo alone.
It is worthy of note that while many of the stories in this collection are gripping and full of suspense, the quality of the storytelling is not uniform throughout. For instance, the section titled Over to You is insipid and dull, with the notable exception of two stories in that collection -- “Madam Rosette” and “They Shall Not Grow Old”.
Overall, the volume bears testimony to the author’s creativity, brilliance and writing talent.