A Taste of the Unexpected

Oh Roald Dahl. A fun little book that made for a great subway read (finished in a single day's commute). There are three stories in this little collection, two of which were amusing (though not great), but the middle story was really fun.

The first story involves good food, wine, and a bet. As the reader, you know what the outcome will be all along, but I still liked the dialogue between characters as a father tries to convince his daughter to let him bet her hand in marriage to an odious little man, as he's convinced they can't lose.

The third story features a young man who is lured to a rather creepy little boarding house... and unsurprisingly, creepiness continues. Again, one isn't surprised by the outcome.

But the second story was really the gem, I thought. We are presented with Mr. and Mrs. Foster. Mrs. Foster has a fear of being late -- to the point where the word "fear" hardly covers it. She is terrified of missing trains, theater curtains, and appointments. As a result, she is always ready to leave at least half an hour earlier than is necessary. But Mr. Foster is another story. Mr. Foster has a bit of what appears to be a cruel streak in him that takes advantage of this fear in his wife. He is always just late enough to rattle her nerves, but never quite enough to send her into hysterics. Because she is a well-bred lady, she would never dream of calling out and rushing him along, but it means that every time they try to go anywhere, she always ends up with the terrible fear that they will be late.

Now, Mr. and Mrs. Foster are an older couple, living in a multi-story building in New York. They keep servants, clearly have money, and their only daughter has moved to France, which means that Mrs. Foster has never been able to meet her three grandchildren, who she adores from afar -- but Mr. Foster has agreed to let Mrs. Foster go alone to Paris for a six week visit. You might think that she can be as early as she would like, yes? That might be true... if Mr. Foster had not insisted on accompanying her to the airport to see her off.

This story was such wicked fun. Dahl has sketched a couple where the husband knows exactly what buttons to push to set off his wife, and when she's such an inoffensive person, you despair right along with her as he dawdles, making them later and later. But of course, what's wonderful about Dahl is that you know the wicked always get their comeuppance...

1 comment:

ji said...

i've been a bit obsessed with dahl recently, he's a real evil genius. muahaha, but you should check out 'my uncle oswald' (one of his two adult novels*), which i think you'll find insanely fun. also, if you can find them, the three "claud's dog" short stories - straight out of hitchcock.

*yes, both entendres