Roald Dahl: 10 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know

On this day, 28 years ago we lost one of the world’s most gifted authors. Roald Dahl’s writing is unique and in life, Dahl was just as special. 

Here are 10 interesting things you didn’t know about Roald Dahl:

Originally published on November 5, 2015


1 ) Dahl’s last words were “Ow, fuck!”

2) His son Theo had his skull shattered as an infant in which, he developed hydrocephalus or “water on the brain”. Dahl was so determined to help his son that he helped create the Dahl-Wade-Till valve, which helped relieve the excess cerebrospinal fluid. He was able to help about 3,000 different children with this invention.

3) Dahl was known for being irritable, stubborn and quick to temper yet had a low-key gentleness to him. He had a unique sense of humour and loved to talk and push social boundaries.  He was mesmerizing yet intimidating.

4) While serving with the Royal Air Force in WWII, he suffered a severe accident in which his nose was pushed back into his face and his skull fractured.  He suffered from postconcussive syndrome, symptoms which include pain, fatigue and irritability which plagued him for the rest of his life. The condition is also known to change perceptions. Some of Dahl’s most imaginative pieces were written after his accident, such as James and the Giant Peach.

ad_179646249.jpg
5) He had a hut out in his garden in which he did all of his writing in. Within it, he had a chair in which removed the back of to ease the discomfort in his back. He had a total of six surgeries on as a result of his injuries in the war. He also had a steel hip prosthesis decorating this room from a failed hip surgery.

6) He absolutely loved chocolate. He had ball of chocolate wrappers that he kept in his writing hut.

7) During the war, he provided information from Washington for MI6 and worked with Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. 

8) While his children’s work was imaginative, humorous and pleasant, his adult pieces showed a different side. He wrote many short stories for Playboy magazine that depicted just how awful adults are to each other. His stories, discussed sex, adultery and rape.

9) He wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

10) He was a womanizer. Notoriously unfaithful, his adult stories were an attempt to depict women as “brutal lascivious creatures”.

***


Sturrock, Donald. Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl. Toronto, ON: Mcclelland & Stewart Ltd, 2010. Ebrary.

                Web. 10 Jul. 2014

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of “We Should All Be Feminists…””

4/5 stars.
ebook, 32 pages.
Read September 20, 2018

I can’t recall how I found this short essay but I’m really glad I did. I have often a wondered what exactly feminism means today? Especially in this volatile political environment. How can we as women explain our situation to the many men (and some women) who still don’t think that it is a relevant position to take a stand on in the present day? Well, I think the continued awareness and prevalence of rape culture, that a misogynist is the American president, how toxic masculinity is creating more and more troubled men, and the potential uproar over women’s basic rights in first world countries and all over the globe is more than enough time to consider how important feminism still is. This essay is important, so much so that I wish I could casually hand a copy of this to nearly everyone I know.  Essays like this should be required reading in high school and universities everywhere. 

“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

How do you persuade people to understand a point of view? You explain how your point of view will benefit them and to not attack them for their current views. Chimamanda finds this wonderful balance between stating facts firmly to diffusing difficult aspects of feminism with grace and humour. She discusses the marginalization of men and women and the archaic beliefs that shape this discrimination, while also recognizing that we’re all unconsciously shaped by our culture so it’s easy to get caught up in what’s perceived as normal. Feminism is here to help us dismantle the beliefs that no longer benefit us in society, and that’s for both men and women. Feminism is not something to be feared, as many men do, as there is a history has a prevalence of fearmongering when it comes to women empowering themselves and others. 

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. “

In end, people will believe what they want to believe. You cannot move people like Trump and those who follow him, but for the rest of us that want better for humanity and are constantly trying to understand and improve, this essay is a wonderful, pervasive and persuasive read. 

“A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.” 

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

“Everyone may be ordinary, but they’re not normal.”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 416 pages.
Read from August 14, 2018 to September 11, 2018.

Further down the rabbit hole I go as I try to read all of Murakami’s extensive list of published works. I picked this one up because a friend had read it an enjoyed it and well, the title; it’s definitely peculiar but it is an understatement to the strangeness of this plot.

There are two parallel narratives with many unnamed characters that take place in this book; The End of the World is full of whimsical beasts and a town where everyone is content, though neither joyous or unhappy because they do not have shadows. The End of World is narrated by a newcomer who is trying to figure out how to rejoin with his shadow while also continuing his work as the dream reader at the local library. The other realm, Hard-Boiled Wonderland, is set in a futuristic world and the narrator is a divorced loner and data processor who comes to help a rogue scientist with his data while meeting his chubby, attractive daughter. The curious and scandalous events with the scientist, bring the data processor to his local library to try and learn more about his experiences, in which he meets the attractive librarian that will help him unravel some of his questions. Little does the data processor know, that the events that take place with the scientist will alter his reality and leave him with an unfathomable choice. As this extensive metaphor unfolds, you come to realize that the choice the data processor makes mirrors of that of the newcomer in The End of World…

Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World by Micah Lidberg
Image created by Micah Lidberg. Source: Paddle8

I’ll just say this now. This has been my least favourite Murakami novel so far. While I appreciate what Murakami was trying to draw on with the conscious and the subconscious mind, he failed on delivering it in an enjoyable and cohesive manner. Murakami literally spent pages, trying to explain all the details to get the reader to understand his complex metaphor and the differences between the two worlds. The setting and the characters were not that engrossing and the metaphor was too forced and waaaaay to drawn out. The End of World was the most fascinating place but I also found the nuances and complexities of Hard-Boiled Wonderland less so. I also got really tired of the way the data processor viewed the chubby underaged daughter of the scientist (especially with the emphasis on her weight) and the sexualization of the librarian. I know it wouldn’t be a Murakami novel without weird sex, that is something I like about Murakami, but this scenario just did not work for me.

I still enjoyed enough aspects of this book to give it a fair rating but it is not a book I would partake in again (even if it meant potentially understanding and appreciating it more) nor would I recommend it as a go-to Murakami read. It is a whimsical read with fun and intriguing aspects but it is also an ambitious read as it’s literally a 400+ page metaphor. If you’re up for the challenge and are prepared for its intricate strangeness and philosophy you might find more enlightenment and enjoyment from this book than I did.