Thursday, December 16, 2010

The miraculous Matilda

Why didn't anybody tell me? Have you read Matilda? Have you read Roald Dahl? Are his other books any good?

The only other Dahl that I've read is The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. And the title story in that collection — what a wonderful story it was! I know squat about its narrative structure, blah, blah, blah, but what a great frickin' story! And when I read it, when I was 11, or maybe 15, it blew my mind.

So here's this Matilda, which I read earlier this week, charming for all sorts of reasons, the well-read eponymous heroine, her criminally thoughtless parents, the weirdly nasty headmistress, et cetera — it's all so sweet (I mean that in a Dickensian way) and funny. But then! [Spoiler alert!] Matilda develops paranormal telekinetic powers! Which is what put me in mind of Henry Sugar.

I know Dahl by reputation (oh, and that terrific Mr Fox movie). Henry Sugar was special, special to me, and I assumed it was unique among his writing. But this paranormal angle fascinates me. Henry Sugar had it, and so does Matilda. Is there more? Do the other books also feature similar uncanny abilities? Are they all this good?
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