El's Reviews > The Roald Dahl Omnibus: Perfect Bedtime Stories for Sleepless Nights

The Roald Dahl Omnibus by Roald Dahl
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May 26, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: 20th-centurylit-early, 20th-centurylit-late, roald-dahl
Read from January 16 to 23, 2011

The first time I realized that Roald Dahl wrote anything other than children's stories was somewhere around 7th or 8th grade when our English class was assigned to read a short story by Dahl called Lamb to the Slaughter. I fell in love with it at that time, I've referenced it numerous times over the years, I've re-read it a few times, and each time it never fails to completely amuse me. It never gets old. After reading his books for a younger audience as a child, the idea that there was this whole new world of Dahl stories out there just waiting for me absolutely blew me away. This never stopped me from re-reading many of his children's stories over the years as well, but in the back of my mind I always kept this little arsenal of a thought: There's even more Dahl out there I haven't read yet.

I was thrilled to come across this book in a used bookstore sometime last year, but I've waited until now to read it. The beauty of these short stories are they are just short enough to read one or two before bed, just as the subtitle ("Perfect Bedtime Stories for Sleepless Nights") suggests. However, Dahl's stories are on par with my other beloved short story writer, O. Henry, in that the stories tend to end with a twist, an unsettling thought, or just plain (purposefully) abruptly which in itself can be unsettling. Some might find it difficult to sleep after reading them, but for some reason his stories are like Ambien for me - except without all the crazy side effects that comes with Ambien...

Besides Lamb to the Slaughter I found some stories familiar, which isn't surprising since several have been used in episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Tales of the Unexpected. I realized one (Man From the South) was familiar because I had seen Quentin Tarantino's film, Four Rooms. Like Ray Bradbury, Dahl's stories have lasting power that transcend literature - they almost become a part of our cultural history because of their simplicity, despite their darkness and - often - their bleakness.

Let's not fool ourselves - Dahl's children's stories aren't all that happy. There's a lot of shit going on in those stories too - but in this collection we can see just how dark Dahl could get if he just let loose; he could go dark without alienating his readers, and for that I think he was amazing.
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Reading Progress

01/16/2011 "I'm reading too much about capitalism in my other books. Time for a little lighter fare."

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely I only read his Boy and of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They are both good! This one looks interesting! Nice review!


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