Sunday, September 7, 2008

Skin by Roald Dahl

I read this collection of short stories for the RIP III challenge, the Short Story Reading Challenge and for Short Story September, several of the stories I had read before at some point, but I really enjoyed the collection, it was perfect for picking up whilst dinner was cooking or whilst in the bath. I had included a mini review of some, but not all, of the stories in the collection
WARNING: I have tried to avoid saying what the outcome of each story is, but with short stories this is hard and in some descriptions I come pretty close to the end of the tale.
"I want you to paint a picture on my skin, on my back. Then I want you to tattoo over what you have painted so that it will be there always."As a young man Drioli admired and loved another man's art, so-much-so that he begged this artist, to tattoo a portrait of his wife on his back. He taught the artist to tattoo, and ended up with his whole back as a portrait of his wife's face.
Years passed, 2 World Wars have caused Drioli's tattooing business to fail, and he is left a poor old man. Walking through the streets of Paris he sees a picture by Soutine in the window of the gallery. Going in to admire the art he ends up revealing an early work by Soutine, his tattoo. A poor man he may be, but he is a walking talking masterpiece, the gallery owner wants a piece of him. Just how far will he go to get it?
The African Story
When the Second World War started a young man joined the RAF as he loved to fly. On his first mission his flight failed and he spent two nights at a lonely, desolate farm. There, lived alone an old man who relished the pilot's company. The old man shared a strange story with the pilot, which the pilot later recorded "not in the old man's words, but in his own words, painting it as a picture."
The old man's tale tells of a relationship with his employee, a man with who gets obsessed by repetitive noises, the noise of his masters dog chewing leads him to kill his masters beloved dog. The man's tale tells his story of revenge.
Galloping Foxely
A regular commuter, used to the routine of his daily commute is suddenly struck with horror when a stranger appears and spoils his daily commute, having the audacity to share his carriage. Not only does this stranger upset the daily commute but he also recognises that face as the school bully who tortured him through his days at (a very stereotypical) boarding school. How does he react?
The Wish
A lovely and very short story about the imagination of a small child trying to make his way across an immense carpet of red hot rocks and black child eating snakes.
The Surgeon
In the surgeon, one mans ordinary day as a surgeon ends up turning his life upside down as he saves the life of the Prince of Saudi Arabia. He is given a rare, rather large diamond as a gift of thanks. With no way to store the diamond safely it is locked away inside the freezer in a bock of ice. He returns to find his house destroyed and the diamond missing, yet it turns up again in a rather strange and unfortunate place.
The Champion of the World
When I saw this title my first thought was Danny, but this has nothing to do with that small boy. I'm sure I've read this story before somewhere, maybe when I was at school. The Champion of the world is about Pheasant poaching, all the ways and means of doing it, slyly without the park keepers catching on.
A pair of men believe they have found the ideal way to poach these birds, and having come up with this method they can't just leave it at poaching a few birds, they go to the extreme and get over a hundred birds. But, as we all know, sinners never win.
Lamb to the Slaughter
The husbands annoying you, home late, expecting dinner on the table, he's got quite boring in his old age, and you just want out. Most people would just walk away, but not this lady. A quick smack to the back of the head and she no longer has a husband to worry about anymore, but she does have the small matter of covering up the murder to deal with. What better way than to ensure the the poilce remove all trace of the crime themselves.


Carl V. said...

I remember the first time I read an 'adult' Dahl story, Lamb to the Slaughter, after having read so many of his children's stories. I was so pleasantly shocked and surprised and have since read and loved several. He certainly produced amazing fiction in both adult and youth genres.

Sidharth Krishnan said...

er... sorry to contradict you...
but in lamb to the slaughter, Dahl makes it very clear that Mary Maloney isn't bored of her aging husband... the husband has an affair with another woman... He doesn't say so, but it's clear from Dahl's description of the talk they had...
but nice post!