Sunday, December 03, 2006

roald dahl is canonized!

The Everyman's Library has added another title: Roald Dahl's Collected Short Stories. (His stories for adults, his stories for children are justly famous).

The New York Times reviews it here.

The strange thing is, I never read Dahl as a child. (Dahl is not especially popular as a young adult writer in urban India; that would be Enid Blyton, yesh!). But his first book that I read was his collection of flying stories: Over to You. After the book had sat on my shelf for weeks, I took it out one day and started reading the first story in the collection. It was called "Death of an Old Old Man" and it starts with:

Oh God, how I am frightened.

From that beginning, Dahl constructs a furious, almost relentless, stream-of-consciousness monologue as a pilot on a dangerous flying mission It's giddy, vertiginous and very very real; it makes you feel breathless but it puts you right there in the cockpit with him, in him, as you worry about whether you yourself will ever make it through this flight.

But you don't have to take my word for it. has the whole monologue (it's about three pages) in its Excerpt of the book: go check it out.

After this, as they say, I was hooked. Well, a bunch of us were pretty fixated with Dahl in my undergrad years -- we analyzed his stories to death.

PS: for the funniest -- well, one is tragic -- stories about sex, check out Dahl's collection: Switch Bitch.

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