TSS (April 4): Boy by Roald Dahl

The Sunday Salon.com For today’s Sunday Salon I just wanted to talk a little about Roald Dahl’s memoir Boy, which I’ve just finished reading. You may remember me reading Going Solo last year, which is about Mr Dahl’s life in the RAF during WWII. I loved Going Solo, and Boy is just as wonderful.

It’s a little bit harder to read, however. Not because it’s written any differently, or because it’s any less humorous or interesting, but because Mr Dahl talks about his llife in public school in England, and if you know anything about public schools in England during any time before, what, 1980, you know they’re pretty tough places to be schooled in. He talks a lot about corporeal punishments, and the horrible teachers he had and how the prefects were just as bad. It’s told in a very matter of fact way, so it’s not sensationalized or anything, but several times I was horrified enough to have to cover my mouth– corporeal punishment is just a horrible thing all around, and to know that so many children went through the public school experience for hundreds of years and experienced the same thing is just unimaginable.

Okay, I ‘m sort of going off track. Yes, that public school bit was bad, but the rest of the book is magnificent, and one of the best parts is when you can pick out some of the things that later inspired Roald Dahl’s books. The matron in one of his schools, for instance, reminds me a lot of Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, and he writes specifically about how getting test chocolates from Cadbury inspired him later when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Reading Mr Dahl’s memoirs makes me even more fond of his kids’ books, and I definitely need to get a hold of a biography or something soon. The only problem is that I’d want it to be written in the same style as Mr Dahl’s memoirs because they’re so funny and wonderful and charming– and I’d want the biography to be the same. Can someone help me find one like that? Any suggestions?

Books read this week:
79. Talking to Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede (full cast audiobook) [rating: 3.5/5]
80. The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes – Hugh Greene (editor) [rating: 3.5/5]
81. Truckers – Terry Pratchett (audiobook) [rating: 4.5/5]
82. The Waves – Virginia Woolf [rating: 4/5]
83. The Further Rivals of Sherlock Holmes – Hugh Greene (editor) [rating: 3/5]
84. Boy – Roald Dahl [rating: 5/5]

Books reviewed this week:
33. Me & Death – Richard Scrimger [rating: 3.5/5]
57. Odder Than Ever – Bruce Coville [rating: 4.5/5]
62. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf [rating: 5/5]
71. Benny & Omar – Eoin Colfer [rating: 4/5]
72. Theodosia & the Serpents of Chaos – R.L. LaFever [rating: 3.5/5]

Mount TBR Stats
4 books conquered
18 books conquered total
0 additions
0 subtractions
334 books remaining

Currently reading:
I’ve decided to finally start reading the Charlie Chaplin memoir I got from the library all those weeks ago. Yay memoirs! I’ve only just started so I can’t say anything about it yet, really, but I’m hoping it’s exciting.

Rereading Holmes: A Study in Scarlet Ch 1-4
Win a copy of Halith (ends 4/15)

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7 thoughts on “TSS (April 4): Boy by Roald Dahl”

  1. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Roald Dahl’s books. I think I found them rather creepy and uninteresting as a chid and now as an adult I have heard how anti-children he is. It’s interesting to hear about how he got some of his inspiration.

    1. Wow, I’ve never heard about him being anti-children before! Considering his books always seem very pro-children and anti-adult to me, it’s really interesting to see another opinion. Do you have any links to something that talks about him being anti-children?

  2. Schools in Britain ALWAYS sound awful. I’ve never met a single British person without quite horrifying memories of school. One of my flatmates got the crap beat out of him (he had to have surgery!) by the other ten-year-olds in his class, which shocked me but nobody else. :/

    1. I have no idea what schools are like now, but the ones in books set before the 1980s seem like it would have been practically impossible to come out of one as a normal person. But maybe the non-public schools were better? No idea, really.

  3. I’ve been curious about this memoir for so long! 🙂 Have you read George Orwell’s stuff on public school? It’s pretty icky. :/ What a weird tradition.

    1. Nope, but I can believe that it’s icky. In Roald Dahl’s book he says something like public school in England was supposed to be awful so the kids would come out toughened up. I guess that’s true, but also seems to have made a lot of them scarred for life!

  4. I just bought Boy and Going Solo and am planning on reading them soon. I’ve heard so many good things about both books, although I think most people enjoy Boy more than Going Solo. I can imagine that the parts on public school can be hard to read!

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