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The Umbrella Man and Other Stories

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,897 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
Is it really possible to invent a machine that does the job of a writer? What is it about the landlady's house that makes it so hard for her guests to leave? Does Sir Basil Turton value most his wife or one of his priceless sculptures? These compelling tales are a perfect introduction to the adult writing of a storytelling genius.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 19th 2004 by Speak (first published April 6th 1982)
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Nine Stories by J.D. SalingerThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeA Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'ConnorDubliners by James JoyceThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Collections of Short Stories
135th out of 2,135 books — 1,607 voters
Matilda by Roald DahlCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlThe BFG by Roald DahlThe Witches by Roald DahlJames and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
23rd out of 33 books — 150 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 28, 2010 PurplyCookie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, short-stories
”The Great Automatic Grammatizator” (from “Someone Like You”): A mechanically-minded man reasons that the rules of grammar are fixed by certain, almost mathematical principles. By exploiting this idea, he is able to create a mammoth machine that can write a prize-winning novel in roughly fifteen minutes. The story ends on a fearful note, as more and more of the world's writers are forced into licensing their names-and all hope of human creativity-to the machine.

”Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coa
Nov 07, 2007 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Matilda was captivating as read out loud by my fourth grade teacher. So I had high hopes for this collection but came up wanting more. Considerably more.

This collection starts off with the zingers of "The Great Automatic Grammatizator," an indictment of greedy publishers and lazy writers (the message will never be outdated) that doubles as a plain fun story.

Other shorties worth the look are "Parson's Pleasure" and "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat" - karma, baby! - and the sickest of the lot, "
Jaehong Park
Oct 06, 2015 Jaehong Park rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thirteen tales of horror and hilarity.
Horror and hilarity, indeed.

The Umbrella Man and Other Stories starts off with The Great Automatic Grammatizator. While most stories tell us of how writing requires a human to give passion and creativity, this story shows the possibility of mechanizing the process of writing - and leaves off at a chilling, "Give us strength, Oh Lord, to let our [nine] children starve."

The second story, Ms. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, is, according to the introduction, the
Malcolm Everett
Apr 24, 2016 Malcolm Everett rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I’m not sure what compelled me to pick up one of Dahl’s lesser-read short story collections. I suppose I was curious to see what his more adult-oriented or literary style was like, and I wasn’t disappointed. Almost all the stories involve bets or schemes, with characters making interesting wagers or swindling people out of their valuables.

Here is the individual breakdown of my ratings for each story, plus a one-sentence summary:

The Great Automatic Grammatizator: 5/5
A man creates a story-writing
Dec 25, 2015 Dooug rated it really liked it
Short stories unique to Dahl's talents; ranging from delightfully devious to comically self aware to terribly twisted. Mostly simple stories of mischief and comeuppance that will have you cheering for all the wrong characters and accelerating along the crescendo of events to the final paragraphs' inevitable but often surprising extraordinary turn of events.
Katina stood out through it's sincere poetic lens of adventure and tragedy in war among beautiful foreign landscapes.
Other favorites include
Amin Muhaimin
This is a disappointment.

Yeah, I am a fan of Roald Dahl. The last time I read Skin other stories, he was absolutely brilliant. All the stories are awesome. Yeah, unexpected and you were excited with the ending.

But this one, I didn't even got all those feelings. Yeah, the story still unexpected but mostly when at the end of the story I was like..."Ooo...okay" and "Haa...did I miss anything?(so I turned few pages back and read again expecting i missed the punchline)".

I'm not sure if I didn't unde
Feb 24, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book after reading A Lamb to the Slaughter in school. I loved Roald Dahl books as a child, so I was curious about what his stories for older children were like. I was not disappointed. Some of the stories are really memorable, I read this book almost ten years ago and I can remember some of the stories vividly. My particular favourites from the book were Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat , Royal Jelly and the books name sake The Great Automatic Grammatizator.

(view spoiler
May 29, 2013 Kacey rated it really liked it
Roald Dahl is the reason I love to read, and my inspiration to become a writer myself one day. So I admit I have a certain bias to him. With that said, I loved every single one of these stories. I can't think of any that I disliked or was bored with in any way. Dahl has a way of weaving the story together to make all the characters interesting and the plot engaging, even in a short amount of space.

The different flavors of each story were delightful. Some sent a shiver down my spine, some were qu
Jill Guccini
Mar 02, 2008 Jill Guccini rated it really liked it
Shelves: title-wave
I found & bought this book while volunteering at the library bookstore. I've decided I'd like to go back and try to read every book by my favorite childhood authors - Roald Dahl and Paul Zindel, mainly - and I'm increasingly finding that Dahl wrote all these other adult books other than Boy and Flying Solo I had never heard of. Although I only realized halfway into this book after reading the back cover that this was a collection of his stories apparently chosen for young adults, but like mo ...more
Sep 13, 2007 Gina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone!
Roald Dahl re-secured his place as my favorite author in this collection of short stories. I picked up a used copy in Powell's City of Books when I was in Portland, and I am almost finished with it already. It was great to have on the plane! Some of these are dark sort of tales, some are just funny, and some are wistful. He's good at every type. You might remember "Lamb to the Slaughter," in which a woman kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb (a Twilight Zone episode was based on this). We ...more
May 31, 2015 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Roald Dahl was one scary man. Each story is so freaking creepy even when nothing really happens. Dahl has a way of playing with the reader's expectations and amping up the atmosphere and suspense so that by the end, you're left in disbelief and awe. The most hard-hitting one for me was Royal Jelly because of how sick Dahl was with his vocab. The story seems rather heart-warming at first to see how devoted the father is, until we get a sense of his crazed belief that his daughter should be a quee ...more
Cindie Harp
Mar 21, 2009 Cindie Harp rated it really liked it
A much-smarter friend recommended this to me, and lent me her library-borrowed copy, which shows a lot of trust. How could I not read it? I called her and asked her a question about it, one of the short stories that is, and she was afraid I was not "getting" the twist that each story provides at the end. I told you, she is much smarter than I. I got it. I did! It was a fun read, if not one that fills the reader with warm feelings of humanity's redemption. Hey, it is Roald Dahl!
Jul 04, 2012 e.c.h.a rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Harun, Mery, Mbak Mia, Mbak Uci, Mbak Roos
13 stories from this book have a hilarious ending and some have a twist ending. You will not find a happy ending one. Some have a horror effect, quite smooth but it really makes me spooky. You always questioning what will happen at the end when you read it, until you find it by yourself.

My fave stories are The Land Lady, Parson's Pleasure, The Umbrella Man, Royal Jelly.

Roald Dahl is a good story teller indeed and am totally agree with that. *bowing*
Mar 17, 2009 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're a fan of Dahl's writing for kids, you MUST try his stuff for grown-ups. That slightly macabre tint that he gives to everything works every bit as well for adults. Some of these were so funny I was laughing out loud, others so poignantly beautiful I was on the edge of tears.

These are a great example of the fact that in Dahl's world, just like in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, people always get what they deserve. Read it!
Charlotte H
Sep 27, 2012 Charlotte H rated it liked it
Roald Dahl writing stories for adults makes you nervous at first. Will there be enough whimsy to give my inner child a sugar rush? Eh, some. More so than the war memoirs. The collection of stories often features a curious child who asks too many questions and challenges the authority of adults. So Dahl's habits die hard, but it's worth toting with you on a train or to a waiting room.
Jun 13, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Roald Dahl is a great story teller! Every story is so different and I am impressed with how creative he is. I am always waiting for the twist at the end of the story. My favorite in this collection is Katina, which is more touching, serious, real and powerful than the other short stories in the collection. But I enjoy the darker or more light-hearted stories as well.
Jan 07, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
Roald Dahl is my favorite- so I love discovering collections of his short stories I didn't know were in print. He wrote for adults for a while before he wrote for children. These are some of his short stories for adults and true to form they are weird and wonderful. I highly recommend if you're a fan of Dahl's work, or if you just need a dark comedy fix!
Dec 10, 2009 Bskidmore rated it liked it
It's always nice to read a book purely for fun, not just because you have to! He was one of my favorite authors when I was younger, very fun and descriptive with his writing. All of these short stories have a fun twist at the end....but over time, the "surprise" ending starts getting more and more predictable. :)
This was a cute collection of short stories. They aren't all one specific genre which I liked but I definitely enjoyed most the ones that were leaning towards horror. I was surprised that Roald Dahl wrote for adults before writing for children. I think he found his calling when he switched to children's books.
Aline Lin Lin
Dec 10, 2011 Aline Lin Lin rated it it was amazing
This was another book i found at my library without properly searching it! I enjoyed the stories, they are diffent to the common stories i was used to read and really short and easy to understand. I was surprised that the author was well known and i didnt know him before.
Nov 22, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Ooh! These stories were just spooky. Vintage Dahl--these stories are written for adults. Colette tells me that many of them became premises for "Tales of the Weird". These are vicious tales of comeuppance. Ultimately, I would say that they are about karma!
Aug 18, 2012 bick rated it it was amazing
i have always loved roald dahl, but this was his first adult book a read. his stories have an o. henry quality to them, with clever twists and turns, but they end in such away that leave you wanting more. very enjoyable.
Mar 14, 2012 Sothdra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It would get a 2.5. The majority of the stories are quick, but very anti-climactic. Few left me satisfied. I would perhaps recommend reading the first half of the stories, and then call it a day. Not terribly impressed.
Jan 07, 2009 Hanna rated it it was amazing
Dahl's short stories are filled with twists and turns that are somehow unexpected. His use of words is masterful. And, he has an amazing sense of humor. Would suggest reading this book with tea and crumpets.
Jul 17, 2009 Sheba rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-alouds
introduced to this book by my wonderful former coteacher, who modified certain stories to make them "child-friendly" for the grades 4-6 set, but still creepy enough to keep them on the edge of their seats.
Kalli Hull
Oct 10, 2015 Kalli Hull rated it liked it
"The Umbrella Man and Other Short Stories" was a very different book. This book was full of short stories written by Roald Dahl, one of my favorite short stories in the book was "The Great Automatic Grammatizer". This short story is about a young computer genius, Named Adolph Knipe who decides to create a machine that can write stories on its own. As Adolph makes more and more stories, things turn for the worse for everyone but him. I enjoyed some of the short stories in this book more than othe ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Kalli rated it liked it
"The Umbrella Man and Other Short Stories" was a very different book. This book was full of short stories written by Roald Dahl, one of my favorite short stories in the book was "The Great Automatic Grammatizer". This short story is about a young computer genius, Named Adolph Knipe who decides to create a machine that can write stories on its own. As Adolph makes more and more stories, things turn for the worse for everyone but him. I enjoyed some of the short stories in this book more than othe ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Giulia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a collection! Some are heartwarming, some are scary (well, most of them are) and with so much hidden meaning about our society nowadays. Such a rereadable book!
Vika Ivanova
Dec 30, 2012 Vika Ivanova rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves short stories
Never trust a man with an umbrella! Greatly written short stories, they made me laugh out loud and sometimes they seemed to be very moving.
Polly Watson
Oct 23, 2015 Polly Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE the adult stories of Roald Dahl!!! It wasn't until a few short years ago that I even knew that he had written adult stories of any kind. I'd always known him to be the author of many of my favorite children's books, my favorite being THE BFG! I don't even remember what I was doing that I came across this information, but out of the blue, I learned that September 13 is Roald Dahl Day! Dahl's birthday. Since my birthday is September 14, that's close enough for me to feel a deeper connection ...more
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Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940's with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors.

Dahl's first published work, inspired by a meeting with C. S. Forester, was Shot Down Over Libya. Today the story is published as "A Piece of Cake". The story, about his wartime a
More about Roald Dahl...

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“Give us strength, oh Lord, to let our children starve.” 11 likes
“Then suddenly, he was struck by a powerful but simple little truth, and it was this: that English grammar is governed by rules that are almost mathematical in their strictness!” 10 likes
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