Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl

As a big fan of Roald Dahl (his book Matilda worked it's magic and made me like reading when I was a youngen), I was excited when Jess told me he had heard about a new biography about the author. I quickly put the book on hold at the library (I was the 75th person in the queue!). When it came my turn to check it out, I eagerly opened it as soon as I got some time.

My first reaction was one of surprise. Roald was no perfect chap, not in the least, and it kind of bothered me. He was definitely a character. He liked gambling and getting people riled up, he was a womanizer and very quick to judge. But he was great with children and loved his family, he was very charitable and dedicated to his craft. And he sure knew how to write superb kids' books. He was the master of the edit, rewrite, rework, and edit of all his writing. He said the key to writing a successful children's book, in part, was to make it funny and make it move fast (no long descriptions). His recipe worked for me and reading this biography made me want to read more of his stuff. Would I have wanted to hang out with Dahl? Sure, that is, if he was in a good mood, I knew that he liked me, and he didn't feel like getting into a debate.

One passage that I liked and wrote down the minute I read it was one dealing with just living your life and getting on with it, regardless of the circumstances (Dahl had to deal with the death of a child, the near death of another, the stroke of his wife, and his step-daughter passing away unexpectedly). Emphasis is my own.

Superstition is something that one grows out of. You try avoiding all the cracks in the pavement or you touch all the posts in the fence. But then you find out later that it doesn’t help. You find out that it’s not going to make a bit of difference if you step on the cracks or not. I think I just realized subconsciously that if you start thinking about bad luck, you’re going to weaken. The great thing is to keep going, whatever happens.

1 comment:

Chap said...

I find that biographies of famous people are too often a little disappointing-in the virtue (or lack thereof) area. But good for you gleaning the good things about that fun, quirky writer. His quote reminds me of the "cross the bridge when/if you come to it" philosophy.