Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Switch Bitch

Switch Bitch
By Roald Dahl

Keeping it short today...

And for anyone who, like me, was unaware... Yes, that Roald Dahl.

This might come as a shock, but I had no idea that Roald Dahl, the writer of some of my favorite children's novels including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The BFG, was also a prolific writer of short fiction for adults as well. I kew that Shel Silverstein wrote a lot of adult content, but not Dahl. So I approached Switch Bitch, a collection of four short stories for adults, with equal parts trepidation and eager anticipation. Was my childhood to be ruined or would I be opened up to an entirely new side of a writer I have always enjoyed?

Turns out, neither. If you have never read Roald Dahl's adult fiction he provides wonderfully fantastical premises and gorgeous twist endings to his admittedly addictive stories. I simply dare a reader to settle into one of these stories and then try and put it down for the evening. It won't happen. In that respect, Switch Bitch, like Dahl's children's literature is virtually impossible to ignore and a delightful romp from start to finish.

But I also found the stories lacking a certain quality. My fundamental problem with Switch Bitch (and this is my problem with so many works ofd fantasy and science fiction) is that he could have taken his premises so much further. I yearn for the extremes. I was literally begging the pages to take his ideas farther afield than Dahl seemed prepared to go. In the story "Bitch" the possibilities of a perfume that renders the human male into a helplessly unstoppable sexual beast are tantalizing, but Dahl reins the story in just as I was prepared to go all the way. And in "The Great Switcheroo" I was prepared for a bigger twist than what was eventually revealed I thought. Dahl owed it to his readers to take that premise to the ends of the earth. Alas, he did not, or at least not as far as this reader would have liked. I sincerely hope this is because Dahl was showing a modicum of literary restraint and not because I have become so wholly depraved that I am wishing sexual cataclysm on unsuspecting literary characters. Of course, on the list of things I'd rather no be known for "More Deviant than Roald Dahl" falls pretty low on the list.

Is it worth a read? Of course. It's an interesting insight into the mind of one of the 20th century's greatest writers. Just don't expect the unexpected (as the cover implores). There's nothing particularly new on these pages. But if you like Roald Dahl you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Don't worry. Your virgin eyes will absorb the impact. Dahl may have hit his fair share of literary home runs, but Switch Bitch is second base is so many more ways than one. Of course, Dahl's second base is still pretty sweet.


Man of la Book said...

I wrote my Fun Facts Friday post on Roald Dahl last week (it was his birthday),, and was also surprised to find out he wrote adult novles/short stories as well as screenplays (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James Bond's You Only Live Twice).

Teressa Morris said...

I had no idea Roald Dahl wrote adult fiction. I will have to go check it out!! Thanks for sharing!!

Brian Joseph said...

I remember that Dahl had an anthology television series called Tales of the Unexpected. If I recall it was in a Twilight Zone type format where Dahl gave a brief introduction to the story. I believe that he wrote most of the episodes. They were usually dark and/or science fiction works with a twist. I remember some of the episodes as being very good. Thus I kind of thought of him as this kind of writer too.

I would probably like stories such as these to be more developed in terms of plot also.

Jess@Fairday's Blog said...

I had no idea that Shel or Roald wrote for adults. How did I not know this? Thanks so much for sharing. I have to check these stories out- simply out of curiosity! :)

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