Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book # 5 - Going Solo


I fell in love with Roald Dahl's writing from an early age when my mother brought me 'The Witches'. To this day my fascination with his writing has not dwindled and thus, it was with great excitement that I picked up his autobiography, 'Going Solo' (the sequel to his book, Boy).

In his introductory note, Dahl writes, 'A life is made up of a great number of small incidents and a small number of great ones. An autobiography must therefore, unless it is to become tedious, be extremely selective, discarding all the inconsequential incidents in one's life and concentrating upon those that have remained vivid in the memory'.

Dahl seemed to have done just that. Going Solo is the most interesting and amazing account of Dahl as a RAF fighter in the second World War. The name of the book is representative of his first solo flight which he took after a brief training in Africa. Dahl had gone to Africa, before the war broke out, as an employee of Shell. The book starts off with his adventures in Africa and he describes with great detail, yet in simple prose, his awe and fascination with everything he came across in the African continent.

Once the war broke out, Dahl volunteered to become a RAF pilot and thus a new set of adventures began for him. He was only twenty-two when he set out for Africa and when he came to England, at twenty-five, he had done and seen things that many people never experience in a lifetime.

This book does not talk about Dahl as a writer but of him as a young lad with dreams, hopes, fears, courage, and a great sense of integrity. It also gives a very close account of the perils faced by the British RAF fighters in Greece during WWII. Thus it serves as a sort of history lesson also. But a very interesting history lesson narrated by the 'splendiferous' story teller himself!

Photograph: Google Images