125: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, and Six More

Does that sound corny and sentimental? As a dream, it does. But as a reality, if I can make it work, it wouldn’t be corny at all, or sentimental. It would be rather tremendous.

Roald Dahl is one of the most fantastic authors ever to have set pencil to paper, and this collection of bizarre tales is some of his finest work. There’s the “fingersmith”:

“I could take the false teeth out of your mouth if I wanted to and you wouldn’t even catch me!”

“I don’t have false teeth,” I said.

“I know you don’t,” he answered. “Otherwise I’d ’ave ’ad ’em out long ago!”

There’s Henry Sugar:

Men like Henry Sugar are to be found drifting like seaweed all over the world. They can be seen especially in London, New York, Paris, Nassau, Montego Bay, Cannes and St Tropez. They are not particularly bad men. But they are not good men either. They are of no real importance. They are simply a part of the decoration.

There’s a brief essay on writing, and how Dahl got into it, and a reproduction of his first published story, “A Piece of Cake”, a non-fiction account of being shot down during the Second World War. There’s a rather genteel reinterpretation of Bacchus’s maenads as “rather tipsy women”. For sheer inventiveness, it’s hard to beat Dahl, and this collection illustrates that wonderfully.


The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, and Six More
Author Roald Dahl
Published 1977
Pages 233
Best character Peter, from “The Swan”.

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