Monday, November 23, 2015

Completed: The Roald Dahl Omnibus

Dear Jenny,

Goodness! I wrote the Preview post for this book back in June. Whoa. The second half of this year has flown by. As I predicted in that post, the book was "dark [...] and a little kooky." And, as we have discussed before re: short story collections... uneven. I liked a few of these but most passed along unremarkably.

As it turns out, one that I mentioned in the comments is apparently famous. How do I know? I have stumbled across a reference to it not once, but twice this year! It's called Lamb to the Slaughter and features a woman killing her husband with a leg of lamb, then feeding the investigating officers the evidence (which they say "is probably right under our very noses!" [37] Har har.) It was made into an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which probably aided its fame.

Oh -- this is fun! I just found the note to the right in the book. There's some good stuff in here...

That first note says: "took a turn @ 'Claud's Dog' -- straight up weird shit (drugs?)  + gruesome!! (dog torture)"

I am pleased to tell you that this is where "I can't remember books" comes in super handy. I do not remember the dog torture. And guess what? I am not going to look it up. I guess I'll remember NOW that there was some dog torture in this book cause I have now written this very post but... that's good info for recommending that people avoid this story.

The Landlady got a pretty good review over there -- it says "perfectly creepy (taxidermy story)". I just flipped through it -- yeah. It's perfectly creepy. The landlady is a very good taxidermist ("you can check out, but you can never leeeeave...")

In addition to "creepy," I used the word "kah-reepy" twice on the note. One for William and Mary where it says "kah-reepy husband brain" (abusive husband gets sick and decides to "stay alive" with some new procedure that keeps his brain alive with just one eyeball attached. The wife takes a certain amount of vengeful glee at torturing the guy via his eyeball.)

The other kah-reepy one was Royal Jelly which I don't... fully recall and do not actually want to. It was about parents giving their sickly baby royal jelly from bees and... the baby turns into a bee? I can't remember exactly. It's was "kah-reepy".

But I just had to look up what "p. 370 - Bill!" meant in the midst of these disturbing notes. And I am laughing right now. That story opens with, "All her life, Mrs. Foster had had an almost pathological fear of missing a train, a plane, a boat, or even a theatre curtain." [370] Yup. That's Bill all right.

On the back side of that note is another note about a couple of other stories... Hitler's birth origin (Genesis and Catastrophe) and another that I referred to as "Pleasant story/kind of flat." (Champion of the World). I also jotted down a few common themes... husband/wife unpleasantness, revenge, passive aggression. But really, nothing worth getting into in much detail here. The book was fine -- like most short story collections, there were a few "Oh yeah!" moments (that Landlady one... shivers. Good spooky Halloween story, really.) but not worth 700+ pages.

However... it's DONE. So let's move on to my others! (Spoiler alert: 2015 has been a rather disappointing reading year for me. I don't know why exactly, and I have read a couple of truly good books [off the top of my head: Station Eleven, Between the World and Me, I am Malala, and The Martian --- basically, the books that I could have picked up at the front of any airport bookstore this year? Sheesh.] [Oh, and all of the Dresden files -- that was a Lifetime aBook Highlight there, so maybe that good fortune made it so the rest had to stink to counterbalance that?] but mostly bummers. The next couple I'm going to tell you about certainly were.)

That was a long parenthetical ending. And I'm leaving it. Woo-hooo!


1 comment:

  1. Kelly,

    No matter what you thought of the actual reading experience, let's call this a win. If I remember correctly, it's been on your list *forever*, right?

    I am glad you cleared up all your annotations. "Kah-reepy" is going to have to go down as a blog favorite from here on in, for sure. And super glad in the middle of all the taxidermy craziness, the Bill reference was so...benign. Hah!

    Sometimes I wonder about the origin of story collections like this---was all this written before the famous kid lit? During as a way to siphon off the stuff that was too crazy? After when he was just a doddering old man? I'm always fascinated by the lesser-known adult works of famous authors.

    Glad you got this one done!