Top critical review
on 1 May 2016
I wanted to love this book and indeed I started out loving it, but it went downhill fast and continued on a downward spiral for me. This is a collection of adult short stories by Roald Dahl and like many collections, some stories were stronger than others. I found that I loved the first story, and from then on I found the stories hit and miss, and as I got further into the collection a lot more of the stories were misses rather than hits.
The second story in this collection was by far my absolute favourite because it was shocking, yet also very clever. Very few of the other stories pulled me in to the extent of the second story. The second one is about a woman who kills her husband and then hides the body in the most shocking and clever way, which was also quite comedic. The ending was left open ended to an extent, but you didn't need anything more from the story. Every other story in the collection ended in a much more messy way, with some being left that open ended I felt that I had no closure at all. Another one of the stronger stories was about a machine that was created to write stories so that authors didn't have to, and how this machine was then used with greedy intent to try and corner the publishing world and make as much money as possible. Of course this is very clever and I am sure Dahl must have been using this as a possible prediction for the future, or else it may have represented some of his thoughts for how terrible the publishing world can be.
Many of the stories were also incredibly dull and I found it a challenge to make myself persevere with reading through them. One story was so long winded, I kept thinking that it would go somewhere, Roald Dahl is a genius of a writer so this has to be going somewhere. Alas it went nowhere and I literally felt like I had wasted forty minutes of my life reading it.
The one thing I will say about this collection though, is that even when the stories are dull it is clear that Roald Dahl could have done some amazing adult novels. Some of the stronger stories in this collection could easily have been filled out and turned into full length novels and they would all have been better off for it. The writing standard in this collection was spot on, the plots and characters just lacked any sort of direction or development due to the length of the stories.
It was clear that Roald Dahl was trying to make a point about human beings and how they react in certain situations, and in that sense you could really see this in every single story. I just couldn't find the message behind the stories a big enough pull to give this book a higher rating than I have. It pains me to rate Roald Dahl so poorly, as he is one of my favourite authors. I really wouldn't recommend this book to you unless you like studying human behaviours, or like me you wish to read every work Dahl ever had published. Overall I just found this collection very disappointing.