Thursday, February 18, 2010

And you thought Willie Wonka was strange...

Skin and Other Stories Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This month's book group selection is Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl. The book is described many places as a collection that introduces teens to Dahl's adult fiction, and I can see how my teenage boys would enjoy these off-the-wall tales. However, if I weren't a writer, I don't know if I would like this book as much as I do. Many of the stories cross the border of odd and venture into slightly creepy--but they do it so well, I cannot help but appreciate Roald Dahl's skill.

Dahl begins and ends each story during the action, no dilly-dallying around with warming up or droning on with conclusions. He also knows precisely when to withhold information from a story and allow his readers' imaginations to fill in far more vivid details than he can wrangle onto paper. For example, in "Lamb to the Slaughter," we never know exactly what Mary Maloney's husband said to her that caused her to snap, and in "Skin" we never learn the method of artistic extraction. (Thank goodness!) In "Beware of the Dog," Dahl demonstrates how to artfully capture the surreal when he describes the pilot's hazy descent from airplane to hospital bed. My favorite story is "The Wish," probably because I have three boys and I have witnessed how they spent entire afternoons avoiding imaginary hot lava when they were younger.

Overall opinion: While this is not thought-provoking or life-changing literature, these strange stories that are expertly told make nice little escapes from reality.

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1 comment:

Mark and Lisa said...

I used to like Roald Dahl as a kid--Witches, Matilda, Willy Wonka. I wonder if I dare try this?