Going Solo is the action-packed tale of Roald Dahl’s exploits as a World War II pilot. Learn all about his encounters with the enemy, his worldwide travels, the life-threatening injuries he sustained in a plane accident, and the rest of his sometimes bizarre, often unnerving, and always colorful adventures. (from Amazon)Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
I LOVE this book. I already love memoirs told by quirky narrators that travel around the world, and I love Roald Dahl’s kids books like woah, so this was a perfect book for me to read!
I only knew a little bit about Roald Dahl before I read this book, mainly some from video clips I found online about where he wrote his books and how he helped invent a cerebral shunt. I had no idea that he had been a pilot for the RAF or that he spent time overseas!
Funny things happen in Going Solo, and some sad things as well (it does partly take place during a war, after all). Mr. Dahl tells it all with his trademark wit and humor, but with a lot of love as well. He may make fun of “empire-builders” (expats who have spent so much time in foreign lands they’ve gone completely insane) but he has a fondness for them as well, and that comes through in his writing. And when he wrote about his fellow pilot and friend, who ended up being killed later on in the war? Yeah, I teared up.
I liked how the story was interspersed with photos and bits of letters Mr. Dahl wrote to his mother, who was living back in England at the time. The letters are sweet, and though the pictures aren’t really good quality (I think it might have something to do with being printed directly onto the paper, instead of on higher quality photo paper) it’s nice seeing how Mr. Dahl and his friends looked back then. Most of the pictures were actually taken by Mr. Dahl himself, who toted around a camera practically the entire time he was in the war.
The only complaint I have about Going Solo is that it’s too darn short. I wish he had written a great big honking tome about everything he did instead of just two little ones about the first 30 or so years of his life. He seems like such a nifty person in his memoirs, and I wish he had written more. I did get a copy of Boy, the first part to his memoirs, so I can read that, and then there’s My Year, written the year before he died, but I don’t think there’s anything else. And biographies aren’t the same. Sigh.
If you like Roald Dahl, his books, or even just WWII memoirs or travel narratives, you’ll love this book. It’s short, but it’s hilarious and touching and exciting, and it’s really worth reading.
Read: September 2009