If I want to write short stories, I should read more of them, and who better to teach me than the master himself, Roald Dahl. I have a Roald Dahl Omnibus of short stories but reading that requires more arm strength than my arm balancing poses for the dictionary-sized thickness. Then I found this copy – probably from one of my sons’ school literature text, which is just short and nice.
I like Roald Dahl’s short stories for their plots and very clever and neat, if not, brutal ending. He has no qualm with killing of his protagonists, like in Dip in the Pool, where Mr Botibol loses his savings in a cruise’s pool draw and plans to sabotage the results, alas with unfortunate result; or in The Way Up to Heaven, where a hateful husband persistent in torturing his ever punctual wife by purposefully making her late.
I also gasped with pity when I read how an expensive antique gets destroyed when a con man who thought he has secured a profit for it in Parson’s Pleasure.
Interestingly, I noted that Mr Botibol is the title of another amusing story – same name but different character. This just goes to show that sometimes, even a famous author has trouble choosing a protagonist’s name, but I can’t fault him seeing how many stories he had written.
The stories are simple yet clever, with a twist, but never pretentious. The characters are ordinary, even dowdy, but so real. This reader can’t help but cheer for the justice melted in the end. I have continued to another book of short stories by a local author, which at the end of the story, I went, huh? Yet this book was shortlisted for Singapore Literature Prize. I guess literary short fiction is not the right genre for me.