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Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying

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Roald Dahl was badly wounded in Libya during the war, but he went on to serve in the RAF in Greece and Syria. In these spine-tingling tales of battles in the sky - and in the psyche - he draws on his own experiences and those of his friends and colleagues to convey the bizarre reality of a pilot's existence.

From the nervy jollity of life in the Ops room and the Mess in 'Death of an Old Old Man' to the nightmarish horror of being shot down in 'A Piece of Cake', or the infectious madness of war in 'Someone Like You', these stories capture with chilling clarity the experience of living with the daily possibility of extinction.

--back cover

160 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1946

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About the author

Roald Dahl

1,068 books23.7k followers
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 adventures, was bought by the Saturday Evening Post for $900, and propelled him into a career as a writer. Its title was inspired by a highly inaccurate and sensationalized article about the crash that blinded him, which claimed he had been shot down instead of simply having to land because of low fuel.

His first children's book was The Gremlins, about mischievous little creatures that were part of RAF folklore. The book was commissioned by Walt Disney for a film that was never made, and published in 1943. Dahl went on to create some of the best-loved children's stories of the 20th century, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach.

He also had a successful parallel career as the writer of macabre adult short stories, usually with a dark sense of humour and a surprise ending. Many were originally written for American magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Harper's, Playboy and The New Yorker, then subsequently collected by Dahl into anthologies, gaining world-wide acclaim. Dahl wrote more than 60 short stories and they have appeared in numerous collections, some only being published in book form after his death. His stories also brought him three Edgar Awards: in 1954, for the collection Someone Like You; in 1959, for the story "The Landlady"; and in 1980, for the episode of Tales of the Unexpected based on "Skin".

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494 (27%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 155 reviews
Profile Image for Levent Pekcan.
159 reviews525 followers
December 23, 2020
Ne desem bilemiyorum, bu kitap bana sorun oldu. Şöyle ki, efendim pek sayın Can Yayınları, orijinalinde 10 öykü içeren bu kitabı kendi kafasına göre 9 öyküye indirmiş. Gerekçeleri de, o tek öyküyü daha önce filanca kitapta yayınlamış olmalarıymış. Akıl almaz bir açıklama, bir de üzerine şımarık, pişkin tavırlar. Zaten genel olarak pek tercüme okumuyorum, hele bundan sonra Can Yayınları biraz zor okurum açıkçası...

Kitaba gelince... Roald Dahl'ın havacı olduğunu bilmezdim, öğrenmiş oldum. Güzel, ama oldukça yavan 9 öykü var kitapta. Bu yavanlık çeviriden mi kaynaklanıyor bilemiyorum. Çeviride genel olarak beni rahatsız eden noktalar yoktu, bir yerde "çifteli" tüfekten bahsedilmesi dışında. Bir de, karakterlerden birisinin ismi Ümitvar imiş, bu isim orijinal metinde de böyle mi, merak ettim açıkçası.

Can Yayınları! Otur, sıfır.
Profile Image for Murat Dural.
Author 14 books556 followers
May 4, 2020
İlk Roald Dahl kitabım. Bunca önemli eserin yazarını yeni okumak ufak bir pişmanlık taşıyor. "Anlaşıldı, Tamam" tüm onun baş yapıtlarından farklı bir içerik taşıyor. Savaş pilotluğu yaptığı döneme dair hikayeler. Kimi gerçekten şaşırtıcı, gizemli. Dili, kurgusu, atmosferi, hele diyaloglarını çok beğendim. Akan cümleler tam da bir savaş pilotuna yaraşır şekilde direk mevzuya konsantre olup dalıyor. Ondan öğrenilecek çok şey var. Daha fazla Roald Dahl okumalıyım :)
Profile Image for Rachel.
107 reviews
September 16, 2016
"Ten mind-tingling stories based on Roald Dahl's experiences as a wartime fighter pilot." As one who has wanted to jump into the minds of pilots in wartime I thought this book would be a great introduction.. it really wasn't.

Death of an Old Old Man - 3/5
An African Story - 3/5
A Piece of Cake (rated and briefly discussed in 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' review)
Madamme Rosette - 1.5/5
Katina - 3.5/5
Yesterday was Beautiful - 1/5
They Shall Not Grow Old - 4.5/5
Beware of the Dog - 3/5
Only This - 2.5/5
Someone Like You - 3/5

Death of an Old Old Man is quite unique. The dogfight between the pilot in the Spitfire against the German in his Focke Wulf, the chase and the fall was beautifully written. The experience of the old pilot was conveyed well in the character's thoughts, especially in his last line of the story, "Why don't you relax a bit?".

An African Story is one of the most weirdly disturbing stories I've ever read. What is it with Roald Dahl just killing animals every so often? It's that creepy but sucking you in story but the ending was satisfying and upped my rating.

Madamme Rosette is where Dahl plots these pilots who execute a seemingly simple plan to free these girls being kept by Madamme Rosette. The tension Dahl was making out for a dangerous plan was seemingly done in 2-3 pages. I know, I know it's a short story but tying the woman with her phone line then locking the door, really? Also, I know women are supposedly preferred 'fat' as a show of class, Dahl even mentions it, but did this topic really need to be covered? I feel the topic of discussion of women's body weight, shaking of body parts could've been left out as it did nothing for the story except decrease its rating.

Katina was really good. You know the storyline where a woman changes a mans life? It's actually a nine year old girl who changes a squadron. Not speaking English, Katina is found by the main character and his friend Finn who take her to their squadron doctor. Katina has learnt all the pilot names (not too many) and has learnt two phrases to ask the pilots. She touched the hearts of the two who found her. A child so innocent watching the war and having her opinion; seeing the good in everyone and forever asking questions. A tale of love, loss and war, Dahl has made a story so sweet and yet so sour.

Yesterday was Beautiful was five pages and pretty pointless with Dahl repeating himself and extending a storyline way past its breaking point.

They Shall Not Grow Old was beautiful, beautiful and beautiful. I could feel the emotions of the character, the plot so simple yet so well written and explained. With a story in the story, my favourite kind, Dahl made a story so realisitic. Truly my favourite short story.

Beware of the Dog was a title I did not understand, unless referring to 'dogfights'. A confident pilot flying to where he believes is the London Channel, wakes in a hospital bed remembering how he lost his leg. He listens to planes overhead and worry fills his mind. An insight into pilots who arrive/crash into another country and though receive hospitalisation are still secretive of their identity. The war does not end in a hospital.

Only This is the anxious wait of a mother for her son - a bomber crewman to come back from his raid. To write from a mother's view is hard and if done well is heart-wrenching. This was in the middle for me, at moments I felt my heart catch then sometimes not so much, nonetheless a viewpoint conveyed effectively.

Someone like You was a discussion between two pilots, two pilots who haven't seen each other in a long time. After a few drinks the other speaks of the people he kills when he bombs. The amount, women and men just like themsleves, he in a plane deciding their fate. Such thoughts on paper really opens a dormant part of your brain and raises even further questions. I wish the discussion was longer and more indepth.

Favourite quotes:

-"When he was drunk he sang very well."

- "The engines seem to sing a duet. There is a deep vibrating bass voice and with it there is a high pitched tenor."

- "'I will prove that I am not crazy. I will make a little speech about something complicated and intellectual. I will talk about what to do with Germany after the war,' But before he had time to begin, he was asleep."

While I did overly prefer a select few compared to the majority, I recommend it.
Profile Image for Sevim Tezel Aydın.
525 reviews33 followers
January 5, 2023
Roald Dahl'ı severim, bu kitapla sevgim pekişti…
Anlaşıldı, Tamam'da 9 öykü var. Hepsi de II. Dünya Savaşı yıllarında geçen, pilotlar, uçaklar, savaş ile ilgili öyküler. Özellikle iki tanesine bayıldım; Madam Rosette ve Dikkat, Köpek Var muazzam…
Kendisi de pilot olarak savaşa katılan Dahl savaşın acımasızlığını, yarattığı tahribatı ve bütün bunlara rağmen insanın içinde tükenmeyen yaşama arzusunu, umudu sade, yer yer de mizahi bir dille anlatmış. İnsana dair gözlemleri beni bir kez daha etkiledi…
Son not, kitabın orjinalinde on öykü varmış, Can Yayınları öykülerden birini daha önce başka bir kitapta kullandığı için bu baskıda dokuz tanesini yayınlamış. Aslına sadık kalmalarını tercih ederdim...
Profile Image for Dane Cobain.
Author 29 books312 followers
September 12, 2019
This collection of Roald Dahl’s short stories all take place during the Second World War. Dahl himself had some experience in the struggle, but he explains right at the start of the book that the stories here aren’t based on his real life experiences. I’m sure they were inspired by them, but the names, faces and places had been changed and I mean there was a story or two which were downright supernatural.

Overall, the stories here were okay, but I actually found myself getting bored during the air combat scenes, and I would have thought that they’d be the fun parts. I’m also not really sure that I’d recommend reading this over some of Dahl’s non-fiction memoirs about his role in the war. Oh, and there were a few racist-ish bits that might make you uncomfortable.
Profile Image for Perry Whitford.
1,956 reviews56 followers
March 25, 2020
Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot during WWII, flying missions over Africa and Greece, shooting down enough enemy planes to be considered an ace and once crashing so badly that he was temporarily blinded.

These ten stories (the first he wrote I believe) are directly influenced from his experiences at that time, and they pack quite a punch, though not by virtue of the devilish sleight of hand that characterized his later stuff.

The companionship, the exhilaration, the fear, the grief, the brutal realities of war are all represented with the authentic stamp of someone who lived through it and was willing to tell of what he had seen and heard with honesty and a natural storyteller's gift.

'A Piece of Cake' and 'Death of an Old Old Man' are both memorable stories about the physical and mental injuries suffered when pilots crash. The first is undoubtedly from Dahl's direct experience, the second can't possibly be but is especially haunting. 'They Shall Not Grow Old' is the extraordinary tale of a pilot who inexplicably disappeared for two days without noticing himself that the time had passed.

'Katina' tells of a shell-shocked young Greek girl who the pilots save and befriend during a battle over Athens. Her hatred of the Germans is such that she leaves the trenches to shake her little fists at them during air raids, with tragic consequences.

'An African Story' is a comeuppance tale that features an unusual relationship between a python and a cow, while 'Madam Rosette' sees three pilots in Egypt pay a visit to the greedy patroness of the 'biggest brothel in the world'.

I particularly liked the various dreamlike sequences in some of these stories, which were lovely and frightening and strangely uplifting all at the same time.
Profile Image for Phil.
156 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2022
Pen pictures of life in the RAF during WW2 - the exhilaration, the pain, the fear that gripped aircrew, squadrons, families, communities. Roald Dahl draws on his own wartime service to paint vivid pictures that plum the depths of war, each a gem. Of the finest WW2 fiction. Read and learn.
38 reviews
February 22, 2023
It’s well written (duh, it’s Ronald Dahl) but war doesn’t really interest me sadly, and also I think some of the stories went a bit over my head. Also, there’s quite a bit of racism sprinkled throughout.
Profile Image for Rainer.
39 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2023
Dahl hat vier Bücher mit Kurzgeschichten für Erwachsene geschrieben. Dies ist das erste. Es erschien 1946 und enthält zehn Fliegergeschichten, die auf seinen Erfahrungen als Pilot in der Royal Air Force während des Zweiten Weltkriegs basieren.
Dahl hat als Pilot viel erlebt (siehe goodreads Klappentext ) und so eine gute Grundlage für den Stoff und die Glaubwürdigkeit dieser zehn fiktiven Geschichten. Ergreifend vermittelt er die psychologische Distanziertheit und Leichtfertigkeit der Piloten angesichts des hohen Risikos beim nächsten Einsatz zu sterben.
Die Geschichten verfallen dabei allerdings oft in Klischees. Der Humor ist pennälerhaft und teils rassistisch – wohl auch der Entstehungszeit geschuldet.
Die Markenzeichen Dahls - die Vorliebe für das Phantastische und Groteske – sind hier noch kaum zu entdecken. Dies ist so anders als das, was Dahl später an Kinder- und Erwachsenenliteratur schrieb, und erinnert daran, dass die Laufbahn eines Schriftstellers nie in Stein gemeißelt ist.
Profile Image for Paul.
Author 1 book92 followers
August 20, 2018
Long before becoming known for his macabre short stories for adults and his strange children’s tales, Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot in the RAF during World War Two. And this was the inspiration for his first collection of stories, ‘Over to You’.

Trademark signs of the mature author are already in place – the surprise denouements, a taste for the fantastic and grotesque. The poignant subject matter lends itself to this - the terrifying, often brief lives of young airmen in the War, the fallout for non-combatants.

I seem to have been reading quite a lot of fiction collections of late. While this was sometimes affecting and an easy read, it doesn’t come near the Italo Calvino and Ivan Klima collections I’ve been reading. The stories quite often lapse into cliché. And there are some howling racial and sexual stereotypes, circa 1944. Are these excusable? Well… Rex Warner didn’t indulge in them, writing about war at the same time. Highlights for me were ‘A Piece of Cake’, Katina’ and ‘Beware of the Dog’. In these, the sense of otherness lifted them above the average airman’s yarn.

My reading of this volume was prompted by the excellent documentary, ‘Spitfire’, which I'd seen the week before at the cinema. Putting on my plane-spotting geek’s hat - or is that helmet and goggles? - it was good to see Hurricanes and Gladiators in action, rather than the usual Spitfires, as shown on the cover of the edition I possess.

Dahl’s parents were Norwegian but the author himself was brought up in England. This must explain why the ‘N’ for Norway was extracted from Ronald, leaving us instead with Roald.
Profile Image for Girish Joshi.
120 reviews19 followers
July 21, 2022
This book is a collection of 10 short stories by Roald Dahl written during his days of being a fighter pilot. I loved Katina, Someone Like You, Death of an Old Man, Madame Rossetta, and Yesterday Was Beautiful.

Death of an Old Man

Oh God, how I am frightened.
Now that I am alone I don't have to hide it; I don't have to hide anything any longer.

What if you die just before the war gets over? There is so much you'll have to lose. It's not the same as dying just after the war starts.

Oh God, I don't want to die. I don't want to die today anyway. And it isn't the pain. I don't mind having my leg mashed or my arm burnt off; I swear to you that I don't mind that. But I don't want to die. Four years ago I didn't mind. I remember distinctly not minding about it four years ago. I didn't mind about it three years ago either. It was all fine and exciting; it always is when it looks as though you may be going to lose, as it did them. It is always fine to fight when you are going to lose everything anyway, and that was how it was four years ago. But now we're going to win. It is so different when you are going to win. If I die now I lose fifty years of life, and I don't want to lose that. I'll lose anything except that because that would be all the things I want to do and all the things I want to see; all the things like going to sleeping with Joey. Like going home sometimes. Like walking through a wood. Like pouring out a drink from a bottle. Like looking forward to week ends and like being alive every hour every day every year for fifty years. If I die now I will miss all that, and I will miss everything else. I will miss the things that I don't know about. I think those are really the things I am frightened of missing. I think the reason I do not want to die is because of the things I hope will happen. Yes, that's right. I'm sure that's right.

This story captures the agony of a fighter pilot who is one the side that's going to win the war, and he's afraid of dying just before the war is over. He doesn't want to lose the life that's ahead of him. On his last flight, he combats a German pilot. Both of them fight beautifully, he struggles until he learns that there is no point of struggling at all.

I won't struggle, he thought. There is no point in struggling, for when there is a black cloud in the sky, it is bound to rain.

An African Story

It's a weird story that involves a crazy pilot who flies low to observe a stable antelope from the right side of the cockpit and gets his plane nearly crashed by hitting a giraffe from the left wing. He crashes in the middle of nowhere and meets an equally eccentric old man who lives with a black cow. This man tells him the craziest story he has ever heard. The story is very simple. The old man finds out that his farm help Judson has killed his dog since he was annoyed by the noise the dog was making. Judson is a serial dog killer, he has killed a lot of dogs in his life, and the old man detests Judson. One morning, when Judson goes to milk the old man's black cow, he finds that there is no milk. In the evening there's milk, but there's no milk in the morning. The old man decided to stay awake all night, to catch the milk thief. At night, he sees that it’s a black mamba who's stealing his milk. The next night, the old man asks Judson to help him catch the thief. He tells Judson to stay near the cow in a trench with a stick and wait for the time when the thief comes. Unaware of his faith, Judson waits. When the black mamba encounters Judson, mamba bites him, and he falls to the ground. The old man decides to let mamba have his share of the milk forever. It's really a weird story of an old man's revenge for his dog.

A Piece of Cake

Hallucinations and trepidations of a pilot who finds himself crashing from a flight he thought would be just a piece of cake.

Madame Rosette

Two pilots looking to meet girls for an evening at Cairo ring famed brothel-keeper Madame Rosetta but later change their mind to raid the brothel and save all the girls from Madame Rosetta.


A 9-year-old Greek girl is saved by a squadron, she has lost her parents in a bombing by Germans. She can't speak English, but the squadron inducts Katina as a new member. Katina then becomes a silent spectator for the story, and the story unfolds with war anecdotes of squadron members. They move to different locations, some of them get killed, and eventually, the squadron loses Katina too.

Yesterday was Beautiful

An aviator whose plane has crashed in a Greek village is looking for a boat to go back to the mainland. He meets an old man who is wandering about the German bombers who keep coming to kill and destroy. He tells the aviator that he knows who has a boat in the village, and then he points him towards his house, telling him that at present, only his wife is at home, someone else's home, because the home of the boatman was destroyed by the German bomber. His daughter was in the home when the Germans came. He tells him. The aviator goes to the wife of the boatman for help, and she asks him how many people has he killed in his life? The aviator says he cannot keep a count. The wife tells that her husband isn't here, he's out, and then she points at the old man sitting outside.

They Shall Not Grow Old

A pilot takes off for a reconnaissance flight, but doesn't return back on time, he's assumed to be dead. He then reappears a few days later.

Beware of the Dog

A pilot loses his leg while flying and crashes in the woods.

Only This

Pain of a mother whose son is fighting in the war. This story captures her restlessness and anxiety beautifully.

Someone Like You

This story is about the feeling of never knowing what would have happened with a subtle change of direction—a jink. This story is about jinking. If you have the joystick to kill in your hands while flying a bomber, and if you jink a little, what happens, who do you kill and who do you save? You never really know what would have happened. If you count to twenty before driving off, do you avoid accidents and save lives? Because you won't hit the one who was supposed to step in front of your car twenty counts ago. It's about two pilots sitting in a pub and drinking beer wondering that they have destroyed so many pubs like that, and so many people like the men and women and the waiters, all drinking in a pub. It's a self-reflection of the choices they have made and their impacts.

'Oh God, I wish I was a waiter or a whore or something.'
159 reviews3 followers
September 25, 2021
I am re-reading Roald Dahl's short stories for the umpteenth time, and this - his first - is one of my favourite volumes. It isn't in the macabre/twisted vein he's famous for - this one is quite a straightforward collection of stories about RAF fighter pilots in Greece and Africa. It's based on first-hand experience - Dahl was a fighter pilot in Greece and Africa, and some of the stories focus on specific events he was part of, like the Battle of Athens.

What's most fascinating to me is that all the stories are light-hearted and humorous in tone, and yet pervaded by death. They basically depict a group of men grappling with the reality that each time they climb in a plane could be their last (WWII RAF bomber crews had a 46% mortality rate), and the psychological detachment - flippancy, even - one has to develop to cope with that.
Profile Image for Jessica-sim.
399 reviews10 followers
October 2, 2016
That was nice, that was really really nice! A good reading experience if ever there was one. The stories are haunting and gripping and as crazy as they might be very down to earth war experiences. We're all people, carrying out orders doing what we think or hope is right, never really facturing in the ripple effects.

This book set me on a Roald Dahl spree. Watched some nice 1950-1970 (short) films based on his stories or for which he worked on the script. Like his stories the movies hold up very well.
36 hours is my favourite, as was the story it's based on "beware of the dog". There are some other incarnations of this story, which I'm looking forward to tracking down and watching. Also another Roald Dahl short story collection will be in my bag shortly.
Profile Image for Христо Блажев.
2,206 reviews1,419 followers
June 12, 2015
В полет към теб, в полет към живота или смъртта: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/v...
Не може да се каже, че съм фен на детските книги, заради които Роалд Дал има толкова много фенове – все се каня да попрочета някоя от тях, но сле�� като преди време злослучих на “Семейство Тъпашки”, така и си останах с намерението. Отчитам, че това е грешка, ще я поправя рано или късно. Но да се докосна до разказите му “за възрастни” си струваше – Дал е прекрасен разказвач, има деликатно умение да предава емоция и да открива красивото и в най-грозните времена, а на места ми напомняше на любимия ми Ромен Гари.
Profile Image for César Lasso.
353 reviews70 followers
January 18, 2015
Se trata, tal vez, del libro de Dahl que menos huella me ha dejado. Reúne relatos con la experiencia del autor como piloto en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Tiene, eso sí, el sello de Dahl, y satisfará a los que han hecho de ese escritor un fetiche. Entiendo que se tratará de las primeras experiencias del joven autor en el campo de la literatura, pues sufrió un accidente y, ya en el hospital, comenzó a escribir cuentos de guerra para revistas.
Profile Image for Paul.
563 reviews151 followers
February 11, 2015
Interesting to see where Dahl started out as a writer. A general melancholy runs through the stories , a sadness at the waste of life or dealing with causing or watching death.
A couole of the stories ate clearly propaganda pieces with the death of a child or hero pilot at the hands of the evil german. Definotely a collection of uts time but all the more interesting for it. Most were written in the midst of war and that tension is obvious.
Worth a read for curiosity and a feel of history
January 30, 2019
This collection is filled with thought provoking sorry stories about world war II, yet through the eyes of the writer of Charlie and the chocolate factory. This has been one of my favorite Roald Dahl reads to date.
Profile Image for Ms Miaow.
53 reviews
October 8, 2017
I found the stories poignant and rather melancholy, but that is to be expected as they were concerning pilots in the RAF during WW2.
Profile Image for Tommy Verhaegen.
2,288 reviews7 followers
September 6, 2017
Een bundel korte verhalen van een groot schrijver. Toch had ik moeite om er doorheen te geraken. Voornamelijk door het thema doorheen het boek: oorlogsvliegers, en dan niet de spannende heldenverhalen, maar de belichting van de keerzijde van de medaille: het lijden, sterven, verlies,... Vaak vanuit een originele hoek, een ander soort heldendom, meer type martelaarschap. Prettige verhalen zijn het niet, dikwijls kan je alleen verder lezen met een krop in de keel, soms lijkt het toch een positief verhaal te worden maar kent dan een gruwelijk (maar niet zoals in horror) einde.Doordat het korte verhalen zijn, kon ik het wegleggen en nadien terug oppakken zoadt ik er na enkele dagen toch door geraakte. Goed geschreven door een totaal andere Roald Dahl maar leuk om lezen is anders. In zijn kleine menselijke drama's wordt hier de onmenselijkheid van de oorlog in al zijn lelijkheid tentoon gespreid.
Profile Image for Angie Fehl.
1,143 reviews8 followers
May 31, 2016
3.5 Stars

During World War 2, beloved childrens' author Roald Dahl served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force. Though severly injured in Libya, he went on to fly in additional missions over Greece and Syria, later transferring to a position in Intelligence. Inspired by his own true-life experiences, Dahl crafts a truly unique collection of sometimes eerie, sometimes touching short stories, each story illustrating an unusual experience of a different pilot. In his foreword, Dahl explains that none of the stories reflect anyone he knew in particular, but were inspired only by general things he witnessed during his years of service.

All the stories in this collection were originally published individually in various magazine publications around the world but have since been made available as one collection in book form. Now, a quick run down of the ten stories:

#1 "Death of an Old, Old Man" -- tale of a seasoned pilot on his final flight -- what originally had me wanting to read this whole book was just the very first line of this first story: "Oh God, how I am frightened!" Had to know the story behind that!

#2 "The African Story" -- an old man has a unique method for confronting an animal abuser... okay, so actually this one doesn't have the focus on the pilot but it's still tense and good!

#3 "Piece of Cake" -- an overconfident pilot has his plane catch on fire, pilot falls into emotional shock, time slows way down and he finds himself struggling to be able to move to free himself from the flames --- This one had a scene that I found a bit of dark humor in: When someone comes to the pilot's aide, the pilot feels pain in his nose and asks what's wrong with it, to which the newcomer replies, "It actually doesn't seem to be there very much." I probably shouldn't have found that bit funny but the polite tone used to notify someone that a prominent part of their face appears to have left the building just tickled me. Guess I'm just dark like that.

#4 "Madame Rosette" -- two pilots on leave hit the town one night and come up with a scheme to visit a local brothel to try to free all the prostitutes.

#5 "Katina" -- Greece, 1941. Two pilots patrolling a bombed area come across a girl, body and face cut and bloodied, standing on a pile of rubble. They decide to take her back to the base doctor to get checked out, end up bonding with her. -- This one I found to be one of the most poignant of the bunch. Katina's story wrenched my heart a bit! It also had one of the best (though saddest), most cinematic endings of any of the stories here, IMO.

#6 "Yesterday Was Beautiful" -- a pilot is simply trying to find someone who can give him a boat ride, but in the process of trying to find someone comes across a family whose matriarch is completely emotionally & spiritually broken by the war

#7 "They Shall Not Grow Old" -- a pilot by the name of Finn goes missing for a few days. When his plane sudden comes in for a landing days later and his fellow pilots ask what happened to him, he initially has no memory of where he's been. When the memories do come back, the story he has to tell is almost impossible for anyone to believe.

#8 "Beware The Dog" -- Story opens with a pilot's plane going down. Pilot survives wreck, wakes up in a hospital. When he has some time to get his bearings about him, the pilot begins to suspect something fishy about the hospital and why he's really there. It was with this story I can say it was my first time ever reading the simile "like a dead cat on a sofa." So there's that.

#9 "Only This" -- the only story in the bunch told from a female perspective -- a woman describes her nightmares she's suffering while waiting for the return of her pilot lover --- eerie ending!

#10 "Someone Like You" -- this collection closes out with a story of two pilots, old acquaintances who have lost touch over the years, reconnecting & shooting the breeze in a local bar

There's just something to Dahl's writing that even if I don't entirely know what's going on all the time, I don't care, I'm compelled to keep reading,,,, if for nothing else just because his writing is so inviting, even when his story ideas get weird af! And some of these here definitely fall under that weird label. A number of them -- such as "Piece of Cake", "They Shall Not Grow Old", and "Only This" had something that was very Twilight Zone about them lol. And since we're speaking of Dahl, you know that scene in the original movie adaptation of his book Charlie & The Charlie Factory where Gene Wilder is singing that CREEEPY song in the tunnel? Well, there was something to the way that Dahl wrote "Piece of Cake" that definitely brought that scene to mind!

Not all the stories have that vibe though. Some really are just a blend of sometimes bittersweet, sometimes tragic reflections on people just trying to come out the other side of war okay, or as okay as one can expect. From the soldiers to the women to the war-scarred children, I could easily picture all of Dahl's creations here as real people. What brought down my rating a bit was the endings on many of the stories... many of those endings fell too flat for me, or were too abrupt, making the rest of the story feel like it fell into some abyss. Still, this being my first dip into Dahl's adult fiction, I'm very much interested to see where his other offerings take me.

Profile Image for Noah Wilson.
140 reviews
July 24, 2018
Here we see yet another side of Dahl showcased, and as could be expected, it's brilliant through and through. Certainly some of my favourite work of one of my favourite writers.

On a sidenote, I'd just like to say that "Katina" in particular is a fantastic story and deserves special mention.
Profile Image for Jodi.
274 reviews1 follower
December 6, 2020
Really nice collection of short stories about pilots during the war, including a couple of other-worldly offerings. I don't usually read books about pilots or war, so I was pleasantly surprised to truly enjoy all of these.
Author 16 books26 followers
June 16, 2020
Solid collection. More for WWII buffs than me. A couple of stories, including one where the men 'save' the working girls, are cringeworthy, but most still hold their weight.
Profile Image for Agnes Frogner.
14 reviews
May 14, 2021
Novellene i boka handler mye om damer og død, men mest om fly og ulike former for tilknytning,-pluss litt mer død og dødsangst. Så jeg antar at det er oppskriften på en bra novellesamling.
Profile Image for Aj.
105 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2022
I love how these stories at first seemed separate be were later revealed to be interconnected.
Profile Image for Mike Booth.
299 reviews1 follower
June 29, 2021
Dahl at his poignant, melancholy best.
I had read A Piece of Cake before, in Henry Sugar, and knew that it was his first work. It is very different from most of his other books I've read, and so I knew that this collection, his first published, would likely be quite different too. What I didn't expect was how sad and resigned a lot of these short stories would read.
It is obvious through his representations of military figures in his books that he held the senior members in contempt, and I knew both from that and his autobiographies that the war had affected him significantly. I even knew, from Going Solo, some of what had occurred during his service. But in these stories much more personal tales emerge, of his friends and colleagues and people he met along the way.
There's no way to know if these stories are true, of course. But I think it's likely that they are - even if they didn't happen to people he knew personally, they feel all too visceral to be merely invented.
There is a mix of emotions contained within these stories, with a little light-heartedness mixed in with the despair. There's a few strange tales, but even these seem to have an element of truth: even if they're impossible, like Death of an Old, Old Man or They Shall Not Grow Old, there is a veracity about them that cannot be ignored.
The first of the stories I mentioned above is the first in the book, and really sets the tone. It is poignant, it is horrible; but it is beautiful in its way, too. It was not what I expected the collection the begin with, but its impact is enough to rock the reader and makes you understand what the book will contain.
After that is An African Story, a more light-hearted, bizarre tale at first appearance, but there is plenty darkness there too. A Piece of Cake follows, with its strange fever-dream sequence, followed by Madame Rosette, which is a lot lighter. I enjoyed this story as I found myself recognising the behaviour of the pilots: I've had experiences in foreign countries similar in some ways, first at the bar with locals and then insisting on driving the taxi to the next place. It's nice to see that some things - people - never really change.
Katina follows. The tone is very different, and I grew nervous reading it, although it starts out as innocent as the previous tale. If you've read Going Solo, you may even recognise some of the events, as they occupy the same time, although this story is omitted there. It is heartbreaking, and definitely the saddest story in the book, but beautiful as well.
From this point, the shorts are all fairly depressing, but not in a bad way. They have their moments of uplift too. The exception to this is Beware of the Dog, which is definitely more on the strange side, but is a great tale. The other four are bittersweet to melancholy, and the last story is a fantastic close to what is a wonderful collection.
Someone Like You shows the pressure the war put on the combatants as much as Only This, its predecessor, shows the pressure that was put on those who had to stay behind. Its a wonderful story to show the psychological torment that was forced upon them, and the lack of ways they had of dealing with it. It doesn't really have an ending, just fades out as the characters wait to go to the next place, which I saw as a metaphor for how they have to continue the war despite their desires and issues. It forms a perfect end to a book of war stories such as this.
I really loved this collection. I think I will buy a physical copy to keep, because these are the sort of stories that can be read again and again. Superb.
Profile Image for Sam Dupont.
49 reviews3 followers
July 28, 2011
Il y a de nombreuses raisons qui poussent un écrivain à prendre la plume et la guerre a été le déclencheur pour nombre de grands auteurs.
Roald Dahl fait partie de ceux là.

C’est un texte, à cheval entre réalité et fiction, décrivant son expérience dans la RAF au cours de la seconde guerre mondiale qui lui fera comprendre qu’il peut vivre de l’écriture. Il se lance alors dans une carrière de noveliste produisant des œuvres provocatrices et terriblement drôle telles que Mon oncle Oswald ou encore La grande entourloupe.

Ce n’est que plus tard, alors que marqué par la mort de sa femme, et devant prendre en main seul l’éducation de ses enfants, qu’il se lance dans la littérature pour la jeunesse avec les romans qui feront sa renommées : Charlie et la chocolaterie, Le bon gros géant, Sacrées Sorcières, Mathilda, James et la grosse pêche, etc.

Si vous avez envie de découvrir les premiers balbutiements de l’auteur, il est essentiel de lire le recueil de nouvelles A tire-d’aile, compilation de texte autour des thèmes de la guerre et de l’aviation. Ce livre est particulièrement intéressant à lire à la lumière de son autobiographie Escadrille 80 (faisant suite à Moi, Boy racontant son enfance).

Dans ces récits, on découvre un écrivain en herbe, piochant abondement dans son vécu pour se faire la main et par la suite pouvoir se détacher de sa réalité pour raconter des histoires, qu’elles soient pour adultes ou pour enfant.

A tire-d’aile n’est pas son meilleur livre, mais il permettra au lecteur de comprendre un peu mieux son auteur. Un personnage touchant, entier et diablement amusant.

Profile Image for Alana Cash.
Author 7 books6 followers
May 20, 2018
I found these stories immensely interesting and entertaining, especially learning the life of RAF pilots during WWII. Some of the stories are told in 3rd person and others in 1st person. Some characters appeared in several stories and these stories were not in order in the book. Dahl's descriptive style is spare, but effective and every story had a punch.

What especially interested me were the paranormal experiences of the pilots. Having grown up in an Air Force family, I had heard stories from pilots who "saw" various things that they reported - a hand in the sky, for example. Dahl based these stories on his own experiences as a fighter pilot in the RAF, so I tended to believe the paranormal stories were actually experienced or reported to him.

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