Monday, July 10, 2006

Switch Bitch
by Roald Dahl

Switch Bitch is a collection of four well-plotted, and often surprising adult tales written by master storyteller, Roald Dahl. I wish Dahl would have written more stories for the adult reader.

One critic writes: "Mr. Dahl's stories are stories to be read. That is, read on a dark night, with a strong drink close at hand, by the light of a single reading lamp.... Then you get the full effect. Yes, these stories are chilling and bizarre and simply wonderful. "

And I have to agree. Roald Dahl could easily be the best ever writer of 'twist in the tale' short stories.

The first story, "The Visitor," introduces us to Oswald Hendryks Cornelius, noted seducer extraordinaire. It's a story-within-a-story that begins as the narrator explains how he came to inherit all 28 volumes of his uncle's memoirs. After inheriting his long-absent uncle's books, the narrator reads through them all and desperately wants them to be published and shared with the world. Unfortunately the books contain many salacious details, including the names of many (married) woman that Oswald slept with and whose husbands would not find such a scandal appealing. I won't spoil it and tell you what happens, but it gets quite complicated (and very amusing). The "saga" continues in the final story, "Bitch".

In "The Great Switcheroo," Vic lusts after Samantha, the wife of his best friend and neighbor Jerry. Samantha is a faithful woman, though, and Vic knows he stands no chance of seducing her. So he concocts a plan that will allow him and Jerry to switch wives for an evening without the women knowing it. Again, I won't give it away but things don't work out quite as Vic has expected.

"The Last Act" is not a nice story, but life isn't always nice and tidy now, is it? When Anna Cooper finds out that her beloved husband Ed has been killed in a car accident, it nearly drives her crazy and she doesn't want to live without him.

Both "The Great Switcheroo" and "The Last Act" illustrate the power of desire that is a double-edged sword, both pleasurable and potentially catastrophic.

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