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THE UMBRELLA MAN by Roald Dahl

THE UMBRELLA MAN

and Other Stories

By Roald Dahl

Age Range: 13 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-87854-5
Publisher: Viking

A baker’s dozen of barbed, witty, obliquely macabre short stories, most drawn from—or at least previously published in—Tales of the Unexpected (1979, 1990). Additionally, there is a heart-rending wartime story of a young Greek orphan adopted by a beleaguered RAF squadron, a hilarious tale of two airheads who decide to make a fortune from grateful socialites by punching a gossip columnist in the nose, and “The Great Automatic Grammatizator,” a period piece about a primitive computer that whips out hugely profitable novels and stories in minutes. Nearly every story ends with a twist: a scam revealed or going wrong; a sinister revelation; or, as in the final entry, “Neck,” a sudden conclusion that derails carefully established expectations. Several stories show their age in dated details, or are slow to develop, and younger fans may find many of the conversations as tedious as the lengthy, satirically exact speeches about bees, wine, and antique furniture. Still, this sampler of Dahl’s writing at least conveys a sense of his versatility. (Short stories. 13+)