Roald Dahl as an author for adults
When I was growing up in the 1970’s, as far as I knew, Roald Dahl had written two books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. That’s it. We didn’t have the Internet then, of course, and those are the only two of Dahl’s books I ever saw, either in the library or in the bookstore. Over the years, I have become aware Dahl did write more books, but I think I’m with most Americans when I say that as far as I knew, he was a children’s author. An author of many books that adults also like, it’s true, but I thought he wrote for children.
Turns out that Dahl did write for adults as well, and when I say adult, I mean adult! Not in the sense that they are pornographic or erotic…although some touch the line and may cross it. Even though the blurb on the book I have references the macabre, that does not mean these are stories are graphic in any way. What makes them horrifying is that Dahl does not shy away from our darkest corners: the parts of ourselves that we don’t want anyone to see.
Except sometimes, as it turns out, his characters are a little bit better than we expect people to be.
You don’t know.
And isn’t that just like real life?
This is the book I read, and my favorite stories are described below.
Whoa! I haven’t read these, but judging from the description they may not be far from erotica. Luckily, unlike many of his books, they are also available on Kindle.
I couldn’t get access to the Table of Contents in any of Roald Dahl’s collected work, but it’s better to find collections that keep the original groupings of the stories, especially if they were done by the author. I always assume that the order of the stories is deliberate, in that case, and it can add to your enjoyment.
The Lois Level’s Favorite Stories from “Skin” and other Stories
Obviously, the title story. You always look at the title story.
I really don’t want to tell you much about this because I don’t want to ruin it, so I will ask a question: What makes you worth more than the sum of your (body) parts?
“The Sound Machine”
This story is for all of you vegans out there. Kind of. Or maybe it’s more for the omnivores.
How do we know what is happening if we can’t perceive it? You know how dogs can hear things we can’t?
You are a hardworking surgeon on the National Health. One day, you happen to save a Saudi prince’s life, and he gives you a diamond in return. What happens?
“Beware of the Dog”
I’m still not sure what this story is about…other than there is a pilot, and he has an accident. As for the rest of it, I have no clue because the pilot narrates the story, and it’s impossible to understand his state of mind.
I think this is probably drawn from Roald Dahl’s real life experiences as a pilot in World War 2, however.
Read more in his second memoir, Going Solo. His first is Boy. While the covers you see her might make them look like children’s books, I would say they are Young Adult +, meaning definitely good for adults.
The organizations (“organisations” in British) that operate under the Roald Dahl brand have an amazing website with lots of free materials to benefit children studying at home as I write this during the COVID-19 outbreak in March, 2020. If you are on the site with children be warned, however, some of Dahl’s adult works do turn up unexpectedly.
There is nothing innocent about Roald Dahl, but if you’ve read any of his works, you should know that.