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The Best of Roald Dahl Paperback – July 14, 1990

4.5 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

This collection brings together Dahl's finest work, illustrating his genius for the horrific and grotesque which is unparalleled.
"Dahl has the mastery of plot and characters possessed by great writers of the past, along with a wildness and wryness of his own. One of his trademarks is writing beautifully about the ugly, even the horrible."--"Los Angeles Times
"An ingenious imagination, a fascination with odd and ordinary detail, and a lust for its thorough exploitation are the...strengths of Dahl's storytelling."--"New York Times Book Review

About the Author

When Roald Dahl said, "I am an old man full of metal," he wasn't kidding around. "The head of my femur (that's the large round bone of the hip joint) has been sawn off on both sides and a fearsome stainless-steel spike with a ball on top has been hammered into the hollow of my thighbone and glued into place."
"What on earth, you will ask, has all this got to do with writing books for children? Quite a lot and I'll tell you why. It turns the body into a rickety structure and a rickety structure is no good for climbing trees or going for long walks. It prefers to be sitting comfortably in an armchair with a writing board on the lap and the feet resting on a suitcase. Thus it encourages my work and the only work I know is writing books."

Roald Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 and educated in English boarding schools from the age of nine until twenty. During World War II, he was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot in North Africa and Greece. When his active duty was completed, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was asked to write about some of his adventures. ""A Piece of Cake"," his first published work, was an account of a fighter plane crashing in Libya. His first piece of fiction was called ""The Gremlins"," a story about little creatures who make trouble for the Royal Air Force by drilling holes in the planes and wreaking general havoc.

Fifteen years later, Roald Dahl found himself telling bedtime stories to his children over and over again, and those were the basis for "James and the Giant Peach", his first published children's novel. After that came "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", to be followed by many others, including "The BFG, The Witches", and "Matilda".

Every book of Roald Dahl's was written in a little brick hut in the apple orchard about two hundred yards away from his home. He wrote them all in pencil ("I never could type"), sometimes with an old sleeping bag wrapped around him, since there was only a paraffin stove to heat the drafty hut. "When I am up here," he said, "I see only the paper I am writing on, and my mind is far away with Willy Wonka or James or Mr. Fox or Danny or whatever else I am trying to cook up. The room itself is of no consequence. It is out of focus, a place for dreaming and floating and whistling in the wind."

Things that Roald Dahl wrote about himself:

I have a passion for paintings and have collected them for many years.

I make good orange marmalade.

I breed orchids and am a keen gardener.

I eat lots of chocolate.

The only dish I have never eaten is tripe.

Beethoven is wonderful.

Pop singers are horrible.

I would like to have been a good doctor.

I have had eight major operations, three on the hips, five on the spine, and countless smaller ones.

Kindness is more important than piety.

I wish my dog could talk to me.

More can be learned about Roald Dahl in his autobiographical "Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo", as well as in the chapter called "Lucky Break" in "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More". Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four. Although the world lost one of its most beloved authors, what he has left behind is a rich library of wonderful tales for children of today and tomorrow to discover and enjoy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (July 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679729917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679729914
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am one of those people who had read many of Roald Dahl's works (from _Charlie and the Chocolate Factory_ to "Lamb to the Slaughter"), I never realized they were all by the same author. As I grew older, I fell in love all over again with Dahl's books for children, but when I stumbled across this collection, I bought it, more or less, blindly. I remember "Lamb to the Slaughter" being good, but I had not read any of the other works, nor did I know Dahl had so many collections of short stories for the more "mature" reader.
This collection is awesome. Being a fan of the O'Henry style story and the Shirley Jackson dark humor, I enjoyed myself tremendously going through each story. The writing is very clean and plot driven, so you can literally lose yourself in his stories the moment you begin them. The excerpt from _My Uncle Oswald_ called "The Visitor" is especially devilishly delicious.
Dahl is one of my favorite writers, and I feel that this collection bears very well on the legacy he left us.
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Format: Paperback
Roald Dahl is probably most famous as a popular children's writer, and is much loved by young readers world-wide for his contribution to children's literature with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and many other favorites. "The Best of Roald Dahl" proves that Dahl is also brilliant at writing short stories on a more adult level. He has a wicked imagination, and has the uncanny ability to stretch it beyond the borders of the normal, picturing ordinary details in a most vivid and elaborate manner. His brilliant imagination travels far and wide to places and events you have never imagined possible, and yet which are not fantastic but entirely believable because of his compelling realism. His realism is sometimes so compelling, that you are almost persuaded that Dahl is telling a true story, and are left wondering whether or not the story is fact or fiction - a remarkable accomplishment for a fiction writer!
Dahl's interest is sometimes dark and off-colour, and his constant fascination with the morbid and ugly makes this book suitable only for mature readers. I personally found his frequent use of blasphemy rather disturbing, as well has his occasional interest in sexual exploits (evident in three stories where he deals with matters such as prostitution, wife-swapping, and sexual conquest). Despite this, the majority of these stories are unquestionably spell-binding. Dahl's short stories have the capacity to leave you breathless because they are entirely unpredictable. He has a love for unhappy, even horrible endings that shock and surprise, yet are incredibly satisfying because they are unexpected. His incredible ability to describe an evil or horrible scheme in rich detail is so riveting, that you are completely caught up in its authenticity and excitement.
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Format: Paperback
It seems that most people know Dahl from his children's books, most notably those made into the popular movies Willy Wonka (Charlie) and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda. And if you know those books (or most likely movies), you've already gotten a taste of the deliciously wicked imagination contained within.
Well, hold on to your seats because you ain't seen nothin' yet!
This collection of 25 short stories (written for adults) spans his career up to 1986 and contains some of the most tantalizingly evil ideas I have read in a long time. What fun it was to visit this mind in all its incarnations. From a seemingly sweet landlady, to a seemingly benevolent preacher, to a seemingly innocuous wager. That is the pattern. Things are not what they seem and Dahl makes sure to throw in a one-two punch of surprises within.
To use a Hollywoodism, I would say this is like O. Henry crossed with Stephen King. So, if you like your short stories with pepper, you can do no better than to visit the twisted world of Roald Dahl.
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Format: Paperback
The infamous, the cantankerous, the grandiloquent, the absurd, the essential, the satisfying Roald Dahl is magnificent. His fame comes almost exclusively from his work as a children's author. Unbeknownst to most, he was a prominent short fiction writer for numerous magazines and publications. "The Best of Roald Dahl" is a collection of his short fiction spanning a large duration of his career rectifying him not as a child's author but simply as well-written author. This collection is unforgettable, and Dahl finds the youthful incendiary in all of us.

From "Pig," to "Madame Rosetta," to "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar," there are no lackluster tales. Although they have almost no commonality subjectively, his stories share a unique aesthetic, which makes them highly approachable and easy to understand - they often have what some might call an ethereal quality.

Stories like "Pig" may seem moralistically positive, but are often suggestive of the dark truth that is the real world. It's as though we are seeing our own negative world through the gentle eyes of Dahl who can only laugh. His dark humor is sometimes hilarious, but more than often grotesque. It will make you smile, it will make you sneer, and it may even make you vomit.
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