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Tales of the Unexpected Paperback – July 14, 1990
New Hogwarts short stories from J.K. Rowling
Don't miss these new, digital-exclusive collections of short stories from Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, available on Kindle Sept. 6. Learn more
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is comprised of gem after gem. Two of Dahl's most famous stories are here. One is "Lamb to the Slaughter," about the wife of a police detective who kills her husband in a most unconventional way and then disposes of the murder weapon in a manner that would make any criminal proud. The other, "Nunc Dimittis," describes the lengths to which a society smoothie goes for revenge.
Dahl's descriptive powers are basic, but his imagination is limitless. He manages to calmly, smoothly pull you into his stories and make the most outrageous things seem perfectly in keeping and perfectly normal--while still just a bit askew.
The stories are all vintage Dahl. Each has elements of the macabre and the grotesque, couched in the comfortable trappings of middle-class life: marriage, tidy houses, bills, resentment, secrets, tidy houses, and so on. Dahl pulls off the neat trick of making the macabre laughable, though--he's not trying to scare the reader as much as make us shout with laughter and recognition and then settle back to enjoy a shiver of anticipation. In "William and Mary," the terminally ill narrator is propositioned by a neurosurgeon friend to give his brain up for experimentation after death. Despite the gruesome details, the story is hilarious:
" . . . So when I get you on the table I will take a saw, a small oscillating saw, and with this I shall proceed to remove the whole vault of your skull.Read more ›
The stories also never end in anything definitive; Dahl gives just enough of a conclusion to keep you wonder and guessing and thinking. In "Nunc Dimittis" for example, the ending is such a teaser. The story itself is wonderful, and at the end, you think you know what happened, but you can't be 100 % sure. Roald Dahl's tales really are unexpected; there were many instances when the story took a twist that I was shocked by, a twist that I hadn't expected at all. And that makes the stories all the more delicious. They're aptly named, that's for sure, and I loved them.
I don't know if I have a specific favorite story; they were all really good, and all really chilling and effective.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I did grown up seeing most oof the movie that based on the book. Love love the book. Very well written..Published 1 month ago by Tunde
If you were a fan of his books when you were growing up, you'll like this book as well. The short stories are intriguing and will make you want to tell the first person you see... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Helen Heberlein
There's no doubt about it: Roald Dahl is one of the greatest writers who has every lived. His stories are compelling, heart-breaking; keep you on the edge of your seat and is read... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Aurélie Cremers
I loved the stories in this book, especially Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's coat. This book is perfect for a "story before bedtime" to read just before bed because the stories... Read morePublished on June 9, 2014 by Paula Kenny
I got back into Roald Dahl (after loving his kids books long ago) after watching the Alfred Hitchcock Presents shows he's written, like the Man from the South, where Steve McQueen... Read morePublished on January 17, 2014 by F. Gurney