I got Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar for 80 pesos in a second-hand bookstore somewhere in the humdrum corners of Baguio.This is a very thin book, comprised of seven stories/ pieces that tackles numerous themes. Dahl is famous for being a ‘peculiar’ children’s story writer, so I anticipated some children’s-story-ish elements. Well, this book is anything but for kids.
- The Boy Who Talked with Animals- Simple story about, well, a boy who talked with animals. It has a simple message and non-extravagant narrative. I would say this story is the most sober moment in the book.
- The Hitch-hiker- A humorous tale about a driver who encounters a strange hitch-hiker. Of course, the hitch-hiker turns out to be more than what he seems to be…
- The Mildenhall Treasure- I should say this piece is boring. It was said to be published before as non-fiction. To say anything beyond ‘it is a treasure story’ would be to crack the nut.
- The Swan- This, on the other hand,. is my favorite story. Again it was a simple concept. There is a dull, talented and weak boy who is being bugged by two cold-hearted bullies. The story revolves on how the boy tries to escape from his tormentors. By the way,. the use of the word ‘tormentors’ is no way hyperbolic. The story has an inhuman amount of macabre and harsh detail. It is like Edgar Allan Poe trying to scare a bunch of kids before they sleep.
- The W.onderful Story of Henry Sugar- The title story is fine. You better check it yourself.
- Lucky Break– It is an autobiographical account of how Dahl got his ‘lucky break’ in writing. Well..
- A Piece of Cake– Another autobiographical piece about Dahl’s service as a pilot.
In sum, I would say this book is fine, but nothing too memorable. Truth be told, I would rather read his short stories. I bet Kuya Bodjie will feel the same.