Short story collections have defeated me on many occasions in the past as you know.
I made such a good start with Flannery O'Connor recently and things were zipping along nicely, a story a day while the bath was running, another over a cup of tea in the morning.
Individual microcosms of life in the Deep South and then I had a problem.
I came across a short story that wasn't a short story, it was more a small novella and I couldn't read it in the time it took to fill the bath, even slowing the taps to a trickle. Suddenly it wasn't a short story any more, it was like any other book.
So I lost my way and haven't returned.
I loved what I read but my Flannery moment has temporarily passed, Clare Wigfall has been in and sorted me out and now I'm onto Roald.
Collected Stories by Roald Dahl arrived in the most wantable-must have Everyman's Library edition with silky ribbon.
Having read the introduction I was intrigued all over again by Roald and back in Form Vc's classroom as the one copy of Kiss Kiss doing the rounds was being fought over. The school library held nothing so interesting and it was something I read in the introduction to the Everyman collection that made me realise why.
We were the generation of Marty Feldman and Monty Python humour, we swooped on it and embraced it wholeheartedly. Our lives revolved around it and to miss an episode was to find yourself living on another planet at school the next day.
Why is everyone walking funny?
Dead parrots? Pining for the fjords?
Dead bishop on the landing? Bruce? Lumberjacks?
Jeremy Treglown's introduction suggests this about Roald Dahl
" the moral revenges of his fiction bring an enjoyable ruthless comic order to a confusing world"
"Dahl's effects often involve making readers uncomfortable about going along with what they are enjoying.His work is part of the mid twentieth-century revival of gothic, particularly the vogue for 'sick humour'"
Sick humour, there you have it and we adored it from within the tight and constricting stays of the 1960's girl's Grammar school environment, where to rebel meant trimming your velour hat with pinking shears and folding it into four when it got soaking wet in the rain to make it look as tatty as possible.
Wearing the brim down would take you to the very brink of risky behaviour.
Straw boaters in summer loathsome and much less vulnerable to attack and customisation, there was no known way to rebel over a straw boater unless you followed Marjorie Smith's example and allowed it to blow under the wheels of a 408 double decker bus.
If I've embarrassed a child today then I should do the same to myself, this picture should convey what I was up against and yes, it did give me a terrible headache.
So a Dahl-a-Day is the current way and I'll report back on how the sick humour stands up some forty years later, bearing in mind that we now have plenty more to compare it with.