Writer: Roald Dahl
Publisher: Penguin Books (2008)
Pages: 282 p
Roald Dahl was a master of storytelling. I fell in love with his children books, even though some of them were too dark for younger audience. So when I heard that Dahl also wrote adult short stories, I couldn’t help myself. I must read them!!
Tale of The Unexpected was consisted of 16 stories with lots of twists and surprising (sometimes even shocking!) endings. The stories had various themes, and I often wondered where did Dahl find his ideas? From everyday tidbits to unusual circumstances, Dahl expertly played with the tension (which was built bit by bit), exploding (and in some cases, hanging) climax, and the feeling that readers had to endure at the end of every story, the feeling of craving for more and more stories to come. Pure genius.
Some stories were quite hilarious, like one of my favorites, a story called Taste, about a man who had a bet with a wine expert. The man challenged the expert to guess the name and origin of the wine he served to his guests. And the ridiculous part was, the bet’s actually his own daughter, handed to the expert in marriage if the man lost the bet. It’s totally crazy, especially because Dahl successfully built the tension, with no clues left for the readers about what came at the end of the story.
Another favorite was Parson’s Pleasure, about a wicked antique dealer who tried to buy a valuable old furniture with cheap price from a farmer, by cheating him completely. This story had an ending that felt so real, so original, yet so unpredictable, leaving the readers’ jaw widely opened =)
With Dahl, you’ll never know how the story would end. The bad guy sometimes wins, making you felt sorry for the heroine. Sometimes he left us undecided with our feeling, whether we should cringe with irony or laugh out loud to his dark sense of humor. In few stories, you had sympathy with the bad guy, and Dahl played along nicely with that, until suddenly he brought the character into his doom. In some stories, Dahl showed his unique talent to create a very gothic plot. A great example was in the story called Landlady, where a young man was lured to stay in a nice guesthouse, with a mysterious and creepy landlady. I still have goosebumps thinking about it!
But the great thing is, what felt too gothic and dark in his children books, fits really well in this book. All in all, this is a true masterpiece, a treasure that makes me craving for more Dahl’s collection of brilliant stories. Luckily, there are so many books of his short stories collection, and you can even download some of them here. Enjoy!