book review: the umbrella man and other stories, roald dahl
Title: The Umbrella Man and Other Stories
Author: Roald Dahl
Category: Fiction, Short Stories
Starred Review: 4 out of 5 stars
According to the inscription inside the book, my BFF Becky gave me a copy of this book for my birthday in 2007. So on my birthday in 2013, I started reading it.
I know I’ve read a few of Roald Dahl’s children’s books in the past, you know, the staples. But I like his short stories better now. They remind me of Flannery O’Connor, and I guess all of his works have that element of shock and surprise, or some twist at the end. Some are more horrifying than others, some have good endings and some have bad ones. But I like that I didn’t figure everything out before the story ended each time. Dahl switches things up for each story. I like it.
“Taste” was hands-down my favorite story in the collection, even though it was one of the stories I anticipated the ending to. It’s just so well-constructed with its characters and the plot. Plus, it deals with wine, so how could it not be great?
One story that had an ending that surprised me was “The Way Up to Heaven,” but in a good way. I appreciated the characters the most in the story — the teasing husband, the worrywart wife, and the way they interacted and how those interactions built up to get me to the surprising ending.
Each story has such fascinating and quirky characters. They’re so much fun, and if you’re not sure you’ll like short stories, I’d definitely recommend reading some of Dahl’s. They’re easy, short, and very entertaining. I’m not normally a short story reader but it’s been nice lately because I can read and finish a story during my subway commute. It’s a nice way to feel satisfied at the end instead of frustrated that I wanted to keep reading.
After finishing this collection, I realized I had a second Dahl short story collection on my to-read bookshelf, so I picked it up. However, when I went to put Skin and Other Stories onto Goodreads, my Goodreads profile told me that I’d already read it in 2004. If that were true, why was it on my to-read shelf and why didn’t I remember many of the stories? I read it, enjoyed it, and it wasn’t until about the fourth story that something started sounding familiar. Huh. Anyway, I read Skin and Other Stories, too, but I guess I can’t count it as a new read for 2013 since it wasn’t a new read.