Friday, August 13, 2010

Dahl for Adults

Decadent is the correct word to describe the short stories of Roald Dahl. And that’s not a bad thing at all!

How do you know Mr. Dahl? In all probability, as the author of children books which you might have come across yourself. He is a creator of amazing characters which include the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, the very Fantastic Mr. Fox and the horrifying Witches. But that is just one side of the coin, for when it comes to adult writing, Dahl is playing a whole different ball game.

Switch Bitch is a collection of short stories initially written for Playboy magazine and published separately in 1965 (source:Wikipedia). It has four short stories, each more sexual in nature than the other. Coming from Dahl, it might seem a little shocking but that is what his intentions are, to shock the reader. The shock started as soon as I read the title and it grew by leaps and bounds as I turned from one story to the next.

Dahl is a great story teller and even though each of the four stories is oozing with sex, there is an irony behind each tale. Uncle Oswald (a famous character in Dahl’s writing who features in the book, My Uncle Oswald – a must read!) makes an appearance in two stories; The Visitor and Bitch. Uncle Oswald, for those who have read of him, is mostly up to no good when it comes to women and here it is no different. Oswald is the perfect Casanova and yet, as a reader, I don’t find him to be despicable. Dahl has created this character with such care that the reader enjoys his amorous adventures and is full of suspense on how Oswald would escape from a tight situation (which he seldom finds himself in!).

The Great Switcheroo is erotic, to say the least, from start to finish but it is the story that dominates.  Two friends, desirable wives, a switch, great sex, and a confession – need I say more?  The final story, The Last Act, is tragic. It also revolves around more or less the same theme with the difference being the lead who, for a change, is a female. It is the only story which leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth.

The brilliance behind Dahl’s stories is that none of these read like a cheesy Mills & Boons novel.  It might be a little hard to digest the fact that so much sex could actually make for a very ‘decent’ read, but it does. You’ll have to read it to believe it!

Photograph: Google Images