Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rereading the seven stories collected here, observes Dahl in his preface, fills the British author with ``acute nostalgia and with vivid memories of those sweet days'' after WW II, when he wrote for four hours a day and then set off for the rolling, rural landscape of England's Buckinghamshire, looking for mischief. Yet little to date in Dahl's ( My Uncle Oswald ) fictional universe has been merely wistful or gentle, and these delicious tales, based loosely on Dahl's youthful exploits in the countryside, are in fact full of his characteristic literary capers; the works build, by book's end, a rustic community populated by con artists, poachers and thieves, where each man buffets his neighbor for supremacy and even the most stealthy among them strives to outdo adversaries with pranks. ``My dear friends, you've no idea the trouble these rascals will go to,'' declaims a bogus clergyman in ``Parson's Pleasure,'' where scams give life its meaning. This man of the cloth is actually an antiques dealer who uses his costume to persuade suspicious countrymen to accept small sums for their inherited valuables, which bring him large profits. Here and elsewhere, Dahl shrewdly uses ostensibly simple fables as vehicles for richly mordant examinations of human foibles. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
YA-- Written in the late 1940s, these seven short stories were originally published in American magazines and are collected here for the first time. The secret of determining the sex of a calf, the parson who collects antiques by duplicity, the illegal greyhound races using a ringer, the ingenious poaching methods for pheasant using raisins and sleeping pills, and a proposed maggot factory are among the everyday occurrences in a British village, related with deft craftsmanship in Dahl's unmatched style. A touch of irony, unexpected endings, and a hint of the wicked and shocking are couched in Dahl's brand of humor; young adults will accept the gruesome details as natural and entertaining. Black-and-white line drawings complement the text with character illustrations. A book that's useful for readers interested in writing, humor, and memorable characters and a possibility for booktalk introductions. --Julia M. Losinski, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Hyattsville, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140118476
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1991
  • Series: Windsor Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 730,191
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. He spent his childhood in England and, at age eighteen, went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa. When World War II broke out, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. At the age of twenty-six he moved to Washington, D.C., and it was there he began to write. His first short story, which recounted his adventures in the war, was bought by The Saturday Evening Post, and so began a long and illustrious career.

After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living in England with his family. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.

Roald Dahl is now considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.

Learn more about Roald Dahl on the official Roald Dahl Web site: www.roalddahl.com

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 13, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      Llandaff, Wales, England
    1. Date of Death:
      November 23, 1990
    2. Place of Death:
      Oxford, England

Table of Contents

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life Preface
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life
Parson's Pleasure
The Ratcatcher
Mr. Hoddy
Mr. Feasey
The Champion of the World

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2004

    Excellent change in pace for Dahl

    I read this collection of short stories thinking it would be remeniscent of the stories I read of Dahl's as a child. I was oh so wrong. Instead I was captivated by the crass humor and hilarious plots. I would recommend this to anyone who is willing to see Dahl as more than a children's writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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