emcmullin at kl.com
Wed Dec 8 19:00:59 EST 1999
Ooh, I'm ready to bite on the Dahl bait. Therefore I will explain
how I feel about the guy.
I'm about to be lurid about Dahl.
Ever since I first encountered Dahl in kindergarten or perhaps
earlier, he gave me the creeps. Mind, I have always felt specifically that
it was *him* I had the problem with, more than his books - that the work
said something about the man. It's probably over-developed fight or flight
response, but there are things in his stories that make my neck hairs
There's something really, really scary to me about his spidery ways.
How he lured me in to fascination with lickable wallpaper (an excellent
notion!), the chocolate bar gold ticket lottery, a garden of candy etc. even
the glass elevator - it's all full of seductions. And then, he's ruthless,
vindictive, downright sadistic with the lured characters - which I can't
help but think of as his prey. And since I, as the reader and watcher, was
feeling just as drawn in, well, I can't think when I've ever ended up
fearing an author more. Charlie and his grandfather seemed to me to be
nothing so much as *hostages.* I concluded Dahl hated children poisonously.
It reminds me of the time, when I was 7, that a man pulled up next
to my best friend and I as we walked home from school. The man told me that
my mother had asked him to pick me up from school that day. I really wasn't
sure. I'd never seen him before. I concluded that my mom was actually
testing me to see if I remembered what she had taught me (duh.). Anyway, the
man tried to persuade me, browbeat me, get authoritative with me, even
yelled at me - all in very short order - and my friend grabbed me and
started running with me while I was still looking dazed.
I digress but I tell that in order to get across that I had a
similar sense of danger and confusion in both instances - here is a grown up
telling you what to do, being authoritative, acting like they know -
meanwhile you instincts are going red alert.
I don't know. I guess it would be fair to say his tales are
moralistic, but they don't seem to me to be actually moral. They seem
moralistic in the same way that Pamela or Moll Flanders was moralistic - the
fig leaf over the illicit thrills. A wolf in sheep's clothing sort of
Maybe it's like being a "taster." You know, those who are sensitive
to the presence of a certain compound found in foods like broccoli,
cauliflower, coffee can't bear them - and no one else can taste it at all.
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