Questions like ‘How would you get rid of a murder weapon without causing suspicion?’ and ‘What if you found out the tattoo on your back was worth over a million pounds?’ on the back cover of Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl could make the reader hungry for more dark tales with unexpected endings.
This book has a collection of 11 short stories, each with its own eccentricity and uniqueness. I particularly enjoyed reading some of them like Skin, Lamb to the Slaughter, Galloping Foxley and My Lady Love, My Dove. The others were all right but some of them had endings which I wasn’t satisfied with.
In Skin, a miserable old man called Drioli came across a painting in a picture gallery and was shocked to know that a boy he used to know had become a very famous painter. Drioli had requested that the boy paint a picture of a woman, Josie, on his back. Now that painting is worth a lot of money and Drioli made the mistake of announcing it to the visitors of the gallery. A few men have made generous offers for him but can they be trusted?
As for Lamb to the Slaughter, it is my favourite story! The ending was totally brilliant and unpredictable. Well, that was how it’s like for me. Who would have thought that Mary Maloney was such a smart, cunning woman? Out of the blue, her husband told her that he’d be leaving her, for what reason, we don’t really know. Mary was in a daze and went downstairs to the cellar to get a leg of lamb, presumably to make supper. Instead of putting the lamb into the oven first, she decided to whack her husband on the head with it. He fell down, dead.
In Galloping Foxley, William Perkins recalls his school days where he had to be a slave to a senior student named Bruce Foxley aka Galloping Foxley. Perkins usually encountered nothing unusual and met the same people while on his way to work. The arrival of a newbie at the train station had disrupted Perkins normal routine. He then thinks that he sort of knows the new guy and suspects him to be a former bully.
Stories such as An African Story and Beware of the Dog have military elements in them which reflect Dahl’s background in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
He also wrote a number of other short stories and you can view the list here. I also have The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Dahl’s surprising tales!