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Boy: Tales of Childhood
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on April 1, 2014
No wonder Dahl wrote such wonderfully awful characters as Ms. Trunchbull (sp?)--he had real-life inspiration! I read his account of getting his tonsils out to my 6th grade students each year to sell them on this book: with no anesthetic, his doctor said, "Open your mouth," and when Dahl did, he darted in with a scalpel and snick-snick, Dahl spit out two globs of flesh and a lot of blood. Well-ah, a tonsillectomy! And the scene of his sister taking the family for a drive in their first car! Oh my god! She didn't know how to turn it or stop it, but she let the little kids persuade her to go faster and faster! Bones are broken! It's nuts! And his teachers. Wow. Corporal punishment with a cane. I like to read the description of being whipped with a cane to my 6th graders when they complain about how strict we are on them so they can realize how good they actually have it. They're so aghast that they argue over who gets to read the whole book. Music to my ears.
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on October 27, 2014
Fine book; excellent writing. This is the personal tale of a master storyteller with experiences that are ordinary, yet extraordinary. As a young man working in Africa, Dahl signs up for the air corps and finds himself flying planes he was never taught to fly in battles that were never planned to be. What is most exciting about this book is that real life is more dramatic than anything that a fiction writer could dream up. It is one of the top five books I have read this year, and would highly recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure. It is hard to portray what it's like to be up there in a Hurricane with enemy fighters after you, but Dahl does it with aplomb. I will wait a while and read this one again!
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on December 17, 2008
Another writer once told me that one of the most important elements to be found in a memoir is a "likeable" narrator. Roald Dahl is perhaps one of the MOST likeable of narrators. Modest to a fault and blessed with a very sly and subtle sense of humor, the story Dahl tells in GOING SOLO, his sequel to BOY, is perhaps one of the most readable memoirs of modern times. His story of the quick and almost informal training he received at a flying school in Africa shortly after Great Britain entered WWII, is hair-raising and nearly impossible to believe, except you do believe, because you trust this man. At six foot six inches tall, Dahl was physically quite unsuited to be a fighter pilot, noting that when seated in the various planes he flew, his knees were nearly under his chin and he had to hunch over to fit beneath the plane's canopy. But fly he did, even after surviving one horrific crash in the desert early on in his career as an RAF pilot. He sustained a very bad concussion (which was to come back to haunt him and finally "invalid" him out of service nearly two years later) and had his face bashed in. As he explained to his mother in a letter: "My nose was bashed in ... and the ear nose and throat man pulled my nose out of the back of my head and shaped it and now it looks just as before except that it's a little bent about ..." Dahl went on to fly many combat missions in North Africa and Greece, usually against vastly superior odds, but somehow he managed to survive until the middle of 1941, when the migraine headaches caused by the aforementioned crash made him unfit for further flying. Dahl's nearly laconic and completely unself-conscious manner of writing about the things he did - absolutely heroic things - made me think of Sam Hynes's WWII memoir of his missions in the Pacific theater. Both writers downplay the importance of their roles. They never speak of heroics or derring-do, only about the importance of their comrades, doing the jobs they were trained to do and trying their best to simply stay alive. This was an enormously satisfying, moving and often hilarious tale. After reading these two slim volumes of memoirs by Dahl, I do wish he had written another. I have ordered his slim collection of stories about WWII already. What a wonderful writer - and gentleman - Roald Dahl was. - Tim Bazzett, author of SOLDIER BOY and LOVE, WAR & POLIO
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on July 17, 2017
I read this book for a purpose. My mother was engaged to one of the pilots mentioned in this book before he was killed. She met and married my father later in the war. It's an interesting story from a soldier's viewpoint and it gave me insight into what my father must have gone through as a rear-gunner over Europe.
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on January 11, 2018
Boy and Going Solo are delightful books! Mr. Dahl writes smoothly and true. There is never any confusion for the reader. The sentences tumble from his pen, flowing in harmony across the pages as you see his life unfold. And what an interesting life! Do read it! You'll be happy you did!
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on September 11, 2015
I loved these books, and I highly recommend them.
Before I read Roald Dahl's autobiographical books, "Boy," and "Going Solo," I thought that he wrote only children's books. What a pleasant surprise !
He was a very talented writer who really knew how to tell a fascinating story, with all the wonderful details that keep a reader interested. I only wish he had written a complete autobiography.
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on June 9, 2017
Roald went to a Welsh school for kindergarten. The teacher beat him with a cane. His mother then sent him to different English schools thinking they were the best schools in the world. But sadly, in every school he went to he was beaten with a cane either by teachers, headmasters, or boys with the title Boazer(Prefect). When Roald was a teen he was a star athlete. That usually would have made him a Boazer. But the administrators would not make him a Boazer since they knew he would not use a cane to beat younger boys. I think this was a horrible way of life in the schools back in the 1920s and 1930s. It was widespread. Many of the teachers and staff were cruel. Sometimes innocent boys were accused of things just to be able to punish them. To be caned, the boy had to pull his pants down. One Boazer was admired for his caning ability. He would hit the boy in the same spot repeatedly and often draw blood. The victim was required to stand with his pants down for several minutes while other boys would closely examine the caning bruises in minute detail. Of course his privates were also on display for all to examine.

There were other stories that were interesting and did not make me as mad as the above.

This is nonfiction - 25 short essays about events in the author’s life from age 6 to age 20.

DATA:
Narrative mode: 1st person. Story length: 172 pages. Swearing language: none. Sexual content: none. Setting: mostly 1920s and 1930s Wales & England. Copyright: 1984. Genre: aubiography, memoirs.
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on March 7, 2016
A beautiful story told in first person because is a memoire and also the way in which Roald Dahl is involved throughout the book.The reader can see the daily struggle to survive and not let down the country and people . It is possible to feel the pain every time a Hurricane crashed , the fellowship among them when they were landed . I love those stories of war and planes and this is one of the best , simple but moving
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on July 12, 2012
I'm of a generation somewhat younger (by about 30 years) than Roald Dahl, but memories of a British childhood still rang true for me. He evidently led quite a charmed life after leaving school, and saw a lot of the world. Stories from his early career in the far-flung British Empire are often hilarious, especially that of the fake dandruff, and the woman who told him, quite matter-of-fact, that he would go mad, just like her and everybody else who shipped out. His wartime experience as a flyer makes you wonder how the British even survived World War II.
All in all, a very readable book.
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on August 28, 2016
This is a wonderful book. I loaned it to a friend who read it during an international flight and she said it made a a normally dull flight a very pleasant trip. It was passed on to a friend who has written some plays. He said he wished he had read Dahl this book before he started writing. He remarked that Dahl is a master story teller. None of then had ever heard of Dahl before and discovered that he is a past master at telling a story.
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