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Roald Dahl
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Roald Dahl is mostly known for his wonderful, imaginative books for children. I have read his autobiography, which was amusing, interesting and informative, and remember his ‘Tales of the Unexpected’, a series of short TV thrillers shown late at night during the 1970s. This book is a series of fourteen short stories, which Roald Dahl considered the best in print at the time he was gathering stories for a TV series.

He started this task in 1958,and the stories in the collection were all in print at that time. Unfortunately the series was never made due to making the serious mistake of choosing the wrong story for the pilot and upsetting the American film company which was showing the programmes (yes, it was about religion!).

The stories are by authors as diverse as E F Benson, famous for the Mapp and Lucia stories, Edith Wharton, famous for books about the lives and morals of the late nineteenth century, an era of decline and faded wealth, and Rosemary Timperley, who Dahl considers the best writer of ghost stories. I wondered whether Edith Wharton might be a relative of Arrse’s own Ken, writer of many excellent books on the subject of Northern Ireland.

The stories’ subjects are as diverse as mysterious events in an antique shop, odd occurrences at sea, and a ghostly tramp appearing to someone newly taking to the road. They are interesting and intriguing, full of suspense, rather than the out and out 'scream' which the word 'terror' in a book description usually indicates.
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I enjoyed nearly all of them, particularly ‘Harry’, ‘The Corner Shop’, ‘The Telephone’ and ‘The Sweeper’. The book is ideal bedtime reading – not out-and-out disturbingly scary, and short stories which can be read in a short space of time before the book falls on your nose. I would recommend this book to readers, as I think there’s something for everyone here.
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