Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl

Deliciously, sinfully macabre.

Summary of Tales of the Unexpected by Roald DahlIn these deliciously nasty stories an internationally acclaimed practitioner of the short narrative works his own brand of black magic: tantalizing, amusing, and sometimes terrifying readers into a new sense of what lurks beneath the ordinary.

My two cents

The book in one sentence: Deliciously macabre short stories .. always with an unexpected twist.

I grew up on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and absolutely love his writing, his twisted sense of humor, his imagination, his wonderful storytelling. But Tales of the Unexpected is my first "adult" Roald Dahl. And in true Dahl fashion, he doesn't disappoint.

You never know what you'll get with Roald Dahl. I was enchanted with the weird and wonderful types of candies that Willy Wonka made, the inane antics of the Oompa Loompas, and on a more adult level, at the personalities of the winning children (and their parents) who made it to the final five. Then when I started reading this collection especially for adults ... I am vaguely reminded of Edgar Allan Poe, Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton with their ability to peer into the darker side of the human pysche. All we need is the wicked cackle in the background!

Dahl has put together this exquisite set of 16 short stories ranging from the mundane to the seemingly impossible. Great for people who adore short stories, and who want some meat without the length. Many deal with gambling, which makes for some interesting insights on what drives people to win and to what lengths they would go to.

Here are a few quick summaries:

- Where wine tasting turns into a a serious wager, until the housekeeper turns the tables on the scammer!

Lamb to the Slaughter - A perverse story of a housewife who decides that enough is enough, and takes matters into her own hands, with a leg of lamb!

Man from the South - Wagering your fingers on the probability of striking your lighter 10 times in a row ... a risky business!

My Lady Love, My Dove - A couple invites friends over for some bridge but a hidden microphone reveals more than expected.

Dip in the Pool - A man on a cruise ship bets his life savings to predict how far the ship will travel in 24 hours. He calculates he will win if the ship turns back to collect a man fallen overboard ... so guess what he does?

Galloping Foxley - Haunted by bullying in boarding school decades ago, a man is convinced that he is sitting in the bus opposite that very bully. He finally faces up to the bully, and ...

Skin - An old street beggar has a tattoo on his back by the famous artist, Soutine. Now priceless,  a rich man offers to buy the beggar a life in luxury for the tattoo on his back.

Neck- An art collector's wife - in a series of affairs - gets her head gets stuck in a priceless piece of art while cavorting with her love. Who else comes to the wife's rescue but her husband!
I laughed myself through this book, which took me a good month to go through. Each story is meant to be savoured. I am in awe of Dahl's power as a storyteller!

Interestingly, these short stories have been made into TV episodes and a few have been adapted by Alfred Hitchock (two masters in one!)

Verdict: Love Roald Dahl's children's books? Don't hesitate to jump into his adult books! Not to be missed!

1 comment

  1. 2 of those stories also show up in another collection, of which the title story is The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories. Here's my freshly posted review of the collection: http://tinyurl.com/DisforDahl


© guiltless readingMaira Gall