Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The story of Henry Sugar really is wonderful

I have a theory about The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl. It was published in 1977 and, by then, Dahl’s children’s books had eclipsed his writing for adults. So the publishers collected seven of his earlier works that were still okay for kids and made a book out of them. 

The result is certainly eclectic. Two autobiographical pieces and a non-fiction piece that isn’t autobiographical, along with, you know, four short stories. They range the light comedy of The Hitchhiker to the straight up horror of The Swan to the gentle whimsey of the title story. And none of them have the phantasmagorical nature of his children’s books.

I first read the book when I was in my single digits. At the time, it was interesting but it felt strange because it was so different than everything else I’d ever read by the man. And, reading it as an adult... it’s still pretty strange because the stories are also pretty different than his standard fare for adults, which tended to be black comedy with nasty little twists. 

All that said, it’s a good read. The title story in particular is a fun ride because it is an engaging story and because it defies every expectation you have for Dahl, actually being a happy story.

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