Monday, October 3, 2016

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (and Six More) - Roald Dahl

Meet the boy who can talk to animals and the man who can see with his eyes closed. And find out about the treasure buried deep underground. A clever mix of fact and fiction, this collection also includes how master storyteller Roald Dahl became a writer. With Roald Dahl, you can never be sure where reality ends and fantasy begins.  (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: Every Roald Dahl day (September 13) I treat myself to another of his books for my collection.  This year it was Dahl's hundredth birthday celebration, so I treated myself to two: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (and Six More).

This is a collection of seven short stories by Dahl.  Dahl started out in short stories before delving into novels and children's books alike, (his very first story is included at the end of the collection), and while those familiar with the Dahl of chocolate factories, witches, and BFGs might not find any of their dark quirky nature in these tales, they are very good, nonetheless.  

Though I found this in the children's section, and it had the whimsical illustrations of Quentin Blake on the cover that would associate it with Dahl's other children's fare, I wouldn't categorize it as such.  While there's nothing of questionable matter, it's just not what children would be interested in, and I would gauge it as later teens to adult.

I thoroughly enjoyed each of these stories, and anyone who is familiar with Dahl knows he has a knack for the fantastical.  What's fun about these tales though is he crosses the line from reality to fantasy in such a fine way that you wonder to yourself, could this be true?  (Only three of the stories in the collection are true tales, as Dahl states in Lucky Break: "For me, the pleasure of writing comes with inventing stories.")

You get tales of a boy who can talk to animals, a strange hitchhiker, discovery of buried treasure, a bullied boy, the rich and conceited Henry Sugar, the tale of how Dahl came to be a writer, and his very first short story.  While I loved all the tales, my particular favorite was the longest of all the short stories in the collection, that of the titular Henry Sugar.  Millionaire Sugar stumbles across a doctor's fantastical writings of a man who could see without his eyes, and Henry strives to develop the same skill so as to cheat at cards and become a billionaire.  Clever Henry Sugar, sure; deceitful Henry Sugar, definitely; but wonderful Henry Sugar, you ask?  The clincher comes with the twist in this story.

Anyone who loved Roald Dahl growing up should give this book a go and see just how much more he has to offer.  While my favorites are his zany children's stories, I loved delving deeper into his quirky imagination to see just what else he had to tell us.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the sensitive reader: some mild language in one or two of the stories, but otherwise, nothing else offensive.

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