If you weren’t a British telly viewer in the 80’s, you’d be forgiven if you were under the impression that Roald Dahl was solely a children’s author. But those of us who watched Tales of the Unexpected (and have had the opening theme tune stuck in our heads ever since) will also be familiar with him as the author of a wealth of short stories, often adapted for said show and all with the unsettling undertones that also ran through his children’s books.
This book, Collected Short Stories, actually brings together five collections – Kiss Kiss, Over To You, Switch Bitch, Someone Like You and Eight Further Tales of the Unexpected – that hit more often than they miss. Bringing together decidedly odd landladies, cheating spouses, con artists, social climbers, eavesdroppers and other assorted ne’erdowells (plus the occasional innocent party), virtually none of the stories end up where you thought they would and most deliver a large dose of delicious schadenfreude.
As with any collection of short stories, it’s occasionally sometimes a bit of a mixed bag, but the only collection I didn’t really enjoy was Over To You, which nearly all featured pilots during war-time. However, Switch Bitch more than made up for it, which as a collection was short but very definitely not sweet – and one I loved every single moment of.
As it happens, it was while reading this book in the staff canteen that I was informed that as well as these, Roald Dahl also wrote a number of even more adult stories (*cough, cough porn cough*). Talk about unexpected…