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The Complete Short Stories: Volume Two 1954-1988

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The Complete Short Stories of Roald Dahl in the second of two unsettling and sinister volumes. 'Dahl finds the child in the adult and the adult in the child and, with a little smile, he sticks the knife in both' Anthony Horowitz, from his introduction Roald Dahl is one of the world's most popular writers, equally at home writing for both children and adults. In this, the sec The Complete Short Stories of Roald Dahl in the second of two unsettling and sinister volumes. 'Dahl finds the child in the adult and the adult in the child and, with a little smile, he sticks the knife in both' Anthony Horowitz, from his introduction Roald Dahl is one of the world's most popular writers, equally at home writing for both children and adults. In this, the second of two volumes chronologically collecting all his published adult short stories, we experience Dahl's dark and powerful imagination in full flight in 28 stories written between 1954 and 1988 (including eight tales which are not available in any other printed edition). Here, in 'Parson's Pleasure', a piece of furniture is the subject of a deceitful bargain; in 'William and Mary', a wife revenges herself on her dead husband; and in 'Royal Jelly' some new parents find an unusual and unsettling way to give their newborn its start in life. Whether you're young or old, once you've stepped into the brilliant, troubling world of Roald Dahl, you'll never be the same again. 'One of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation' The Times 'The absolute master of the twist in the tale' Observer Look out for Volume One, introduced by Charlie Higson. Roald Dahl, the brilliant and worldwide acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and many more classics for children, also wrote scores of short stories for adults. These delightfully disturbing tales have often been filmed and were most recently the inspiration for the West End play, Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales by Jeremy Dyson. Roald Dahl's stories continue to make readers shiver today.


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The Complete Short Stories of Roald Dahl in the second of two unsettling and sinister volumes. 'Dahl finds the child in the adult and the adult in the child and, with a little smile, he sticks the knife in both' Anthony Horowitz, from his introduction Roald Dahl is one of the world's most popular writers, equally at home writing for both children and adults. In this, the sec The Complete Short Stories of Roald Dahl in the second of two unsettling and sinister volumes. 'Dahl finds the child in the adult and the adult in the child and, with a little smile, he sticks the knife in both' Anthony Horowitz, from his introduction Roald Dahl is one of the world's most popular writers, equally at home writing for both children and adults. In this, the second of two volumes chronologically collecting all his published adult short stories, we experience Dahl's dark and powerful imagination in full flight in 28 stories written between 1954 and 1988 (including eight tales which are not available in any other printed edition). Here, in 'Parson's Pleasure', a piece of furniture is the subject of a deceitful bargain; in 'William and Mary', a wife revenges herself on her dead husband; and in 'Royal Jelly' some new parents find an unusual and unsettling way to give their newborn its start in life. Whether you're young or old, once you've stepped into the brilliant, troubling world of Roald Dahl, you'll never be the same again. 'One of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation' The Times 'The absolute master of the twist in the tale' Observer Look out for Volume One, introduced by Charlie Higson. Roald Dahl, the brilliant and worldwide acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and many more classics for children, also wrote scores of short stories for adults. These delightfully disturbing tales have often been filmed and were most recently the inspiration for the West End play, Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales by Jeremy Dyson. Roald Dahl's stories continue to make readers shiver today.

30 review for The Complete Short Stories: Volume Two 1954-1988

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ulysse

    When I was in sixth grade we had a teacher who taught us to line dance and to think for ourselves. She would also read us stories by Road Dahl. Not his famous children's stories, mind you. No, she read us his short stories written for adults. Every week we listened to detailed descriptions of: boy slowly peeling scab off knee, boy being lured into taxidermist's den, boy being slaughtered and turned into human sausage, etc. You can imagine how horrified and excited a group of 11-year-olds we were When I was in sixth grade we had a teacher who taught us to line dance and to think for ourselves. She would also read us stories by Road Dahl. Not his famous children's stories, mind you. No, she read us his short stories written for adults. Every week we listened to detailed descriptions of: boy slowly peeling scab off knee, boy being lured into taxidermist's den, boy being slaughtered and turned into human sausage, etc. You can imagine how horrified and excited a group of 11-year-olds we were! I was so enraptured in fact I even started writing my own stories of the macabre and reading them out loud to the class. I also became an insomniac that year. Three decades later these stories are as vivid as ever. The scab-peeling episode still works its charms. The boy-sausage remains one of the most disturbing things I've ever read. This book is full of such wonders. Be warned though: some of the stories in this volume are unbearably cruel (I had to skip one called "the Swan”); others, bordering on the misogynistic, not to say the misanthropic, would probably fail to find a publisher today, and for good reason. But I don't know many writers who can grab you from the first sentence and not let go until you've finished the last word of the story. Dahl pulls off this feat in almost every one of the 55 tales found in the two volumes of his Complete Short Stories. If ingenious plots and unexpected endings are your thing, there's no better place to find them than here. Don't expect too much kindness from Mr Dahl, though — the man must have had more than his fair share of demons to exorcise. Now I wonder what that 11-year-old boy is up to right now…

  2. 5 out of 5

    Quiver

    This volume has twenty-eight short stories written over a period of thirty-five years. The twists and themes are to me more recognisably Dahlesque than in the first volume which contains his earlier writings (a lot of them pilot and war related). All the stories are curious in their own way. Some of them are predictable, yet delicious disasters like Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, The Great Switcheroo, The Hitch-hiker. Others are disturbing thought experiments (William and Mary), or disturbing This volume has twenty-eight short stories written over a period of thirty-five years. The twists and themes are to me more recognisably Dahlesque than in the first volume which contains his earlier writings (a lot of them pilot and war related). All the stories are curious in their own way. Some of them are predictable, yet delicious disasters like Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, The Great Switcheroo, The Hitch-hiker. Others are disturbing thought experiments (William and Mary), or disturbing and weirdly inexplicable (Pig), or disturbing and almost unbearable, but ultimately wonderful (The Swan). Some are uplifting, but I won’t reveal which ones—let that be a surprise! This collection also includes Lucky Break, where Dahl explains how he got into writing. The most memorable of stories is the first concerning Uncle Oswald’s exploits, unimaginatively named The Visitor. It was initially published in a 1965 issue of Playboy, but I’d read it in some random collection of tales and it stuck with me. When I think Dahl, I think Uncle Oswald trundling along in his car through the desert towards a castle and an adventure that will have consequences never to be erased. If you want to read a single story—let it be this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amitava Das

    Dahl’s short stories not written for children (which are also fantastic in their own right ) are wickedly good. So good you’d savour them like a honeyed truffles long after they are done with. Incredible plotting , quirky characters , wicked sense of humour, unexpected endings ... most of them get etched forever in the mind on first read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clouds

    For this reading list: Gifts & Guilty Better than Volume One - a bit more punchy - but I'm just not a massive fan of short stories. For this reading list: Gifts & Guilty Better than Volume One - a bit more punchy - but I'm just not a massive fan of short stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Athirah

    Lovely, though slightly morbid, as always expected of Roald Dahl.

  6. 5 out of 5

    The Reader

    Preferred the stories in Volume 1 but these are great too. Great twist at the end of each one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Somerandom

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection (and I might be awaiting even more collections of his in the post that I snapped up online. Don't judge me!!) Dahl is one of those children's writers that you can actually go back to without any shred of shame and legitimately say with a straight face, yeah the man knew his craft. Yes I still like to read a Goosebumps every once in a while or pick up a Nancy Drew if I find it, but unlike the cringe one feels at the subpar writing or the realization th Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection (and I might be awaiting even more collections of his in the post that I snapped up online. Don't judge me!!) Dahl is one of those children's writers that you can actually go back to without any shred of shame and legitimately say with a straight face, yeah the man knew his craft. Yes I still like to read a Goosebumps every once in a while or pick up a Nancy Drew if I find it, but unlike the cringe one feels at the subpar writing or the realization that these stories are not as epic as one remembers them, Dahl I find is among the esteemed ranks of those timeless children's authors (if a bit vulgar) you can still thoroughly enjoy as an adult! I can still laugh at Wonka's antics or cheer when Aunt Sponge and Spiker get their comeuppance or wish that the cigar smoking Norwegian Grandma is my own. Adult quibbles of morals notwithstanding. So you could imagine my elation when a younger teenaged me discovered that Roald Dahl was revered in England as both a children's author AND an adult author, though quite risque. Of course, once I found all the compilations my collections started mounting lol! With the straightforwardness of say an Orwell novel, Dahl conjures up decadent tales of English life and politeness. With sneering sarcastic objection not unlike Wilde, but with endings or undercurrents more at home in Goosebumps, these tales are like if Jamie Rix decided to write a traditional English comedy of manners. But with the signature offbeat, quirky and often times macabre sense of humor that is all Dahl. The introduction by Anthony Horowitz probably worships Dahl more than even this review! But is still cool to read all the same. A young man finds himself in the thrall of a peculiar landlady, a lady decides to revenge herself upon her dead husband, a piece of furniture becomes entangled in a nefarious bargain and dear old Uncle Oswald pops up now and again to have a sordid sexcapade. As with all collections of short stories some are awesome, some are okay and some left me slightly disappointed. But that's just how short story collections are so all in all a must have for any Dahl fan. I must admit that while I haven't read part 1 very much, I do prefer part 2. (Though in defense of the stories in Part 1, never has a pompous sounding wine taste testing been so unequivocally gripping, and with such stakes!!) Perhaps that's just a sign that Dahl grew as an author as he went, which is perfectly reasonable. As for sexism, racism blah blah etc etc. Look, if I had to agree with every book or author I read in order to enjoy them, my reading library would consist of like 5 books. Life is messy, authors are people and as such are prone to strengths and weaknesses. Dahl lived in a completely different time, he grew up with completely different expectations and standards of what was considered appropriate. At the end of the day, I don't think I have to agree with every one of his views to be a fan of his. And I will remain a hardcore Dahlian for the rest of my life. Onto My Uncle Oswald!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    Roald Dahl is the 20th Century Charles Dickens. He is the master of storytelling, penning books for children and adults the majority of which have all becoming classics. As Anthony Horowitz says in the Introduction of this book, “Dahl finds the child in the adult and the adult in the child and, with a little smile, he sticks the knife in both.” This book, the second in a two-volume collection of every single adult short story he ever wrote, is one of my most treasured books on my whole shelf. It Roald Dahl is the 20th Century Charles Dickens. He is the master of storytelling, penning books for children and adults the majority of which have all becoming classics. As Anthony Horowitz says in the Introduction of this book, “Dahl finds the child in the adult and the adult in the child and, with a little smile, he sticks the knife in both.” This book, the second in a two-volume collection of every single adult short story he ever wrote, is one of my most treasured books on my whole shelf. It is better than Volume One, which contains lots of dull and repetitive (if well-written) war stories. THIS volume however, containing every short story he wrote between 1954 and 1988, is home to some serious masterpieces, some of which have stayed with me for years. Believe me when I say that Roald Dahl’s adult fiction is just as satisfying as his children’s fiction, as is finally finishing every story in this collection. Quick list of my personal favourites: The Way Up to Heaven The Champion of the World The Landlady - masterpiece! The Last Act The Great Switcheroo The Hitch-hiker The Swan Lucky Break The Umbrella Man The Princess and the Poacher Princess Mammalia The Bookseller The Surgeon Ultimate favourites from that list: The Way Up to Heaven, The Landlady, and The Swan. In terms of ones that I liked less... I am yet to read a bad Roald Dahl story. Some of them are fantastic and stick in your memory for life, and others are just good in the time you’re reading them...and that’s okay. The Butler I remember being slightly mediocre. The ‘Uncle Oswald’ stories, The Visitor and Bitch did not live up to the hype: I don’t dislike Oswald as a character...the stories themselves were just annoying. Parson’s Pleasure was wonderful, with an ending to remember, but not one of my favourites. Royal Jelly was a creepy little horror story that leaves a bitter aftertaste, albeit intentionally. William and Mary was memorable and satisfying, just not a favourite. And as for Pig, which everyone seems to adore, I did not join in on the hype. Maybe it needs a reread; maybe I just didn’t get it... But as I’ve said, the vast majority of stories here, even some of the less memorable ones, are utter classics. You will not regret buying this!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim Symes

    The second volume of the complete short stories is a thicker book than the first, containing 28 stories in total. The majority of the 28 are brilliant, surprising and original. Some are unforgettable. All have the trademark Dahlesque weirdness about them. There were a few I didn't much care for (hence three stars rather than five) and these were the ones concerning Uncle Oswald, originally published in Playboy magazine, and now rather dated (possibly even offensive) in their portrayal of gender The second volume of the complete short stories is a thicker book than the first, containing 28 stories in total. The majority of the 28 are brilliant, surprising and original. Some are unforgettable. All have the trademark Dahlesque weirdness about them. There were a few I didn't much care for (hence three stars rather than five) and these were the ones concerning Uncle Oswald, originally published in Playboy magazine, and now rather dated (possibly even offensive) in their portrayal of gender relations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric Aguirre

    La mayoría de los cuentos que aparecen en este tomo son sumamente entretenidos. Adoro la imaginación de Roald Dahl. Tiene el espíritu del cuento de hadas de los hermanos Grimm. A ratos es horroroso, pero en la siguiente pagina te estas riendo. Este es el lado supuestamente adulto de Dahl, famoso por sus cuentos para niños; pero en ningún momento pierde ese humor y ocurrencia que poseen sus cuentos infantiles.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    As with most short story collections, I enjoyed some stories more than the others. I enjoyed the stories in the first half a bit more than those in the second, as those are the ones with the dark humor and suspense which is what I enjoy in Roald Dahl's short stories. Some of the other stories were a bit too long for me, though. Also, Uncle Oswald is quite the unsavory character. I suppose I will avoid the standalone novel based around him. As with most short story collections, I enjoyed some stories more than the others. I enjoyed the stories in the first half a bit more than those in the second, as those are the ones with the dark humor and suspense which is what I enjoy in Roald Dahl's short stories. Some of the other stories were a bit too long for me, though. Also, Uncle Oswald is quite the unsavory character. I suppose I will avoid the standalone novel based around him.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sydni

    I always love Roald Dahl. I wish the stories were more evenly distributed between the volumes - this book is very fat. Overall, the stories from this volume are longer and more revengeful and lusty. I would definitely start with volume 1 if you’re new to Dahl. But it’s fantastic to have the entire collection, and some of my favorite stories are in this copy. See: Royal Jelly The Landlady The Umbrella Man Parson’s Pleasure The Bookseller The Butler William & Mary The Surgeon

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. TW: rape Some fun twists. Many stories however have a unpleasant Dirty Old Man flair to them. The one where two men conspire to sleep with each other's wives without the women's knowledge and therefore consent is hugely problematic and shouldn't be published without context, as it is done in the introduction for another story called 'Bitch'. TW: rape Some fun twists. Many stories however have a unpleasant Dirty Old Man flair to them. The one where two men conspire to sleep with each other's wives without the women's knowledge and therefore consent is hugely problematic and shouldn't be published without context, as it is done in the introduction for another story called 'Bitch'.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I love Roald Dahl’s wicked imagination and the way he unravels his stories. I felt as he got older, however, he lost the razor-sharp wit of his earlier material. The endings became a little more predictable and not so much of a surprise. Nevertheless I tore through the 800 pages and was never bored ... cant say that about too many authors.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wriju Ghosh

    Expect the unexpected

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Lyman

    The only thing wrong with this book is that it’s only 800 pages. Roald Dahl is the master of the short story. A must read for anyone who likes superb fiction with a twist at the end.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adinda De

    Deze verhalen zijn nog beter dan in het eerste deel van de verzamelbundels. Zeker het lezen waard

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jamon

    Don't binge these after reading Volume One! It's just too much of Roald Dahl in one go. Don't binge these after reading Volume One! It's just too much of Roald Dahl in one go.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pia Sophia

    First read: 26.12.2017. This second volume of Dahl’s short stories is even better, if possible, than volume one. There honestly wasn’t even one story I disliked. In fact, I adored every single one of them. With my favorites being ‘The Way Up to Heaven’, ‘Pig’, ‘Royal Jelly’, ‘The Great Switcheroo’, ‘Bitch’, ‘The Hitch-hiker’, ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ ‘Lucky Break: How I became a Writer’ and ‘The Surgeon’, I can honestly say these stories are worth taking your time for. Dahl’s stories First read: 26.12.2017. This second volume of Dahl’s short stories is even better, if possible, than volume one. There honestly wasn’t even one story I disliked. In fact, I adored every single one of them. With my favorites being ‘The Way Up to Heaven’, ‘Pig’, ‘Royal Jelly’, ‘The Great Switcheroo’, ‘Bitch’, ‘The Hitch-hiker’, ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ ‘Lucky Break: How I became a Writer’ and ‘The Surgeon’, I can honestly say these stories are worth taking your time for. Dahl’s stories are magical. He makes you want, or rather NEED to continue reading, but on the other hand you don’t want to because you want to save his amazing words and not to finish them too quickly. Which also made me get to the final page with mixed emotions. I even feel slightly guilty for not naming all of the stories in this volume as my favorite, but one needs to make choices. If you were only to choose a few of Dahl’s genius stories to read, make sure it’s the ones I mentioned before. But I would strongly recommend you to turn off your phone and other electronics you might get distracted with, make yourself a nice cuppa, curl up in a cosy corner somewhere and indulge yourself in the different side of the writer with whose stories we all grew up with. Second read: 26.12.2020: These stories get better and better every time you read them. Pure enjoyment!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Such a masterful writer! I enjoyed the stories in Volume Two more than Volume One, and you can sense the delightful fun he was having when writing them. Some of the stories are of an adult nature (you won't ever meet a playboy like Uncle Oswald) and definitely not meant for kids, but they are all highly entertaining. This collection contains what is possibly my favourite of his short stories: 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (did anyone else try staring at a candle flame and the back of play Such a masterful writer! I enjoyed the stories in Volume Two more than Volume One, and you can sense the delightful fun he was having when writing them. Some of the stories are of an adult nature (you won't ever meet a playboy like Uncle Oswald) and definitely not meant for kids, but they are all highly entertaining. This collection contains what is possibly my favourite of his short stories: 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (did anyone else try staring at a candle flame and the back of playing cards?). Another highlight is his non-fiction work: 'Lucky Break: How I Became A Writer'. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Z. N.

    Dahl's twist of mystery and macabre is delightful in an adult setting. Particularly enjoyed 'The Way Up to Heaven'. There are elements of racism in his stories, particularly in the case of the uncle who has exotic adventures with foreign strangers, which are distasteful but no more so than in other authors of his time. Dahl's twist of mystery and macabre is delightful in an adult setting. Particularly enjoyed 'The Way Up to Heaven'. There are elements of racism in his stories, particularly in the case of the uncle who has exotic adventures with foreign strangers, which are distasteful but no more so than in other authors of his time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Schuff

    Roald Dahl writes as well for adults as he does for children. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this two-volume collection of his short stories, and I highly recommend this set to everyone who enjoys a good story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lars Bosteen

    Bit of a mixed bag. Some stories are excellent from start to finish, others are either not very interesting or don't have a satisfactory ending. Bit of a mixed bag. Some stories are excellent from start to finish, others are either not very interesting or don't have a satisfactory ending.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Grace Harris

    Can't even begin to say how much I loved this. Will definitely be on top of my list of favourites for a long time. Can't even begin to say how much I loved this. Will definitely be on top of my list of favourites for a long time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie

    Weird and wonderful. Some of these really stay in the mind for a long time afterwards.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Tonay

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nandaja Jaireth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rjb

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