Roald Dahl happens to be one of those authors from my childhood who I never quite managed to outgrow. Then again, Dahl also happens to be one of those writers whose books are so wonderfully magical that they are loved by readers of all ages.
Personally, I’m of the mantra that anything well-written counts as literature, whoever the publishers decide to market the book towards, and boy can Dahl write. I own two copies of this book; one is a slim pocket-sized edition from the Popular Penguins series, and the other includes both parts of his memoir, so it’s actually Boy and Going Solo. Anyhow, the Penguin edition was so light that I carried it around with me and read it on the train etc etc., – because you can’t really travel with War and Peace, no matter how gripping it is – and I found this book so funny that I laughed out loud several times on the train. I’m pretty sure people gave me looks, but I was so wrapped up in what I was reading that I couldn’t have cared less.
The great thing about Going Solo is that we see a different side of Dahl; the man before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Esio Trot, and George’s Marvellous Medicine. I laughed out loud because reading it was like an chance encounter with an old friend, but it wasn’t all Dahlesque kooky humour – many, many parts of this book are so incredibly poignant and thought provoking. All the more so because Dahl isn’t flippant or overly sober about it all, but he treats his life story in the same down-to-earth manner that gives his fiction such a whimsical, and yet believable touch. His experiences as a RAF pilot in the Second World War took up the majority of the book – and I did enjoy reading it – but I liked his observations of British colonial ’empire-builders’ best. Dahl’s life really is a testament to the [by now, extremely] cliched saying that often truth can be stranger than fiction.
» This was my Used book for the 9 Books for 2009 project. For this particular category, we were asked to pick a pre-loved book that we owned. I chose Going Solo, by Roald Dahl – although I think I managed to ‘cheat’ once again by reading a new copy!
p.s. not at all related to Roald Dahl or his memoirs, but we had the strangest weather here in Sydney today! This morning, when I woke up, the everything in sight was shrouded in a blood-red haze – only it wasn’t a sunrise, or a bushfire – it was a huge duststorm! Facebook wallposts ran along the lines of: Apocalypse! Martians! Armageddon! It was like being momentarily trapped in a sephia photograph. Very surreal, and quite frightening at first.