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Tales of the Unexpected
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 1999
This is a terrific book of some of Roald Dahl's most deliciously twisted stories. Always suprising, clever, ingenious and, of course, unexpected!!! Deceptively simple writing with attention to odd and ordinary detail reveals wonderfully wicked stories. I cackled through the whole thing. Some are also quite thought-provoking, like "Genisis and Catastrophe." Favorite stories include "The Sound Machine" "Skin" "William and Mary" and "Georgy Porgy". HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, unless you like your stories cute and wholesome, in which case you'll probably be offended by this book. Thanks for listining!
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There are a number of caveats to be aware of when reading this Roald Dahl collection of short studies. On the large scale of life, nothing is taboo here. The reader will encounter any number of strange and improbable situations that could amuse, bemuse, frighten, betray and even offend them at the very thought that their sensibilities have been played with. Using myself as an example of someone who likes involved, loaded and, at times, morbid plots, the reader here becomes an easy mark for the surprising and often disturbing ending. We get so caught up in the thick of a delicious tale that we fail to see that Dahl, the master narrator, is setting us up like his main characters for the big fall or let down. My favourites have to be "Man from the South", "Nunc Dimittis" and "The Way Up To Heaven" because all three represent the author at his best in telling a convincing yarn that achieves a fiendishly twisted end or outrageous outcome that rivals anything Poe wrote in this genre, including "Tales from the Crypt".
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on March 17, 2002
Roald Dahl is at the peak of his powers in this collection. For anyone who knows him only as the author of the Willy Wonka books--or who thinks of him purely as a children's book author--this is the book to change your mind and make you think admiringly about Dahl's considerable powers as an adult writer.
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. You'd still be unconscious at that point so I wouldn't have to bother with anaesthetic."
"Like hell you wouldn't," I said.
"You'd be out cold, I promise you that, William. Don't forget you DIED just a few minutes before."
"Nobody's sawing off the top of my skull without an anaesthetic," I said.
Dahl doesn't get any better than this!
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on March 4, 2001
I was enchanted with Roald Dahl's writing as a child ever since I read CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this book while browsing through the shelves of my university's library. After reading TASTE and then LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, I found it difficult to put the book down. I find Dahl's style of writing and his keen attention to detail an absolute delight. Every story is a treat and I relish the moments that I have a bit of time to read a story or two. As a busy student, I don't have much time for recreational reading, and that's why short stories are a favorite. I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to purchase a personal copy from Amazon because this is a book I would like to read more than once. I had just been reading some of Shirley Jackson's short stories and was delighted to find another author who is consumately skilled in the genre. For those of you who like unusual stories with a twist, this book is for you.
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on October 14, 1996
I bet right now your thinking, I don't want to read a bunch of
short tales from this childrens author. However, this is a very adult
targeted collection of Dahls short storys, and you'll soon learn why they
are called "Tales of the unexpected", not because of any science fiction
theme, but the people next door living out small events with endings you
could never guess.
An example? Well, remember the Alfred Hitchcock show? One of the
twisted tales in here was made into an episode. A hint of mystery and even a
hint of humor mixed in with Dahls' perfect writing and qualitys make each story
stick, you won't forget a single one, I know I didn't.
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on May 11, 2000
In fact, a book worth reading, reading with pleasure. We felt throbbing by reading the three short funny tales about some interesting aspects about life and death. On the one hand a surviving brain and on the other hand a vegetarian who dies in a packing-house, we really adore those special ideas, which gave us a lot of information and made us laughing. It was exquisitely funny to read and we have to recommand it to everybody who is not too tricky in that black humour. The way Roald Dahl describes his exagerated ideas full of details let them show truly. thank you Roald, we're your fans! Martin and Matthew
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on May 11, 2000
The book was written very exciting. You see the world through the eyes of a man with a lot of fantasy and black humour. We had a very intensive feeling by reading them and the details were very impressive. You could very well get involved in the main characters. Because of the many details you could easy imagine visually. He has fear of describe disgusting things like to expose calvarium and other operation. He writes with a effrontery. The end is always unexpected but always surprising and refreshing. Two students of Aarau, Switzerland
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on March 11, 2002
I hadn't read Roald Dahl since I was a kid. The Harry Potter series reignited my interest in children's books. Soon after, I started reading Tales of the Unexpected and remembered why I love Roald Dahl so much. Dahl's characters are quirky and entertaining but are also drawn from life. Tales of the Unexpected is an excellent example of this. The stories are uncomplicated but well written. They are so fun to read, they seem to fly by. I defintely recommend it.
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on June 7, 1998
The stories are gripping. The plot you will remember vividly. Roald Dahl is at his best in this collection of short stories. It is interesting and has also been made into a compulsory lower secondary literature text in some first-class Singapore schools. The stories identify with anyone regardless of his/her social conventions or locale simply because of the characters' universal thought processes. Read it. You won't be disappointed.
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on October 3, 1999
I can't believe so many people have written such scathing reviews of this book- you're putting people off! If you are a Dahl fan, this book won't dissapoint. If you're looking for scary, mysterious stories(ie point horror etc) then look elsewhere. All in all, I love Roald Dahl, and was glad that when I had read all his childrens stories I could onto this. Brilliant!
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