July 7, 2005
Why Children Love Roald Dahl(Filed under: Extracurricular)
The New Yorker asks why children love Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, and why adults generally don't like the curious children's writer. It's a long piece, but includes lots of lovely details about Dahl, including bits about his writing hut:
The adults who looked into the hut were less impressed. The walls, lined with Styrofoam, were stained sepia from all the cigarettes Dahl smoked; there was a grotty wing chair; and wires for a jury-rigged heating system dangled from the ceiling. “You’d expect it to be grander,” one woman said. But the kids saw more possibilities in a musty old hut of one’s own. They liked the fact that Dahl, unsatisfied with desks, had designed a baize-covered writing board, to balance on his lap just so. And they loved that he kept, on a side table, a jar containing gristly bits of his own spine, which had been removed during an operation on his lower back. Next to the jar was a waxy-looking knob that turned out to be Dahl’s hip bone, along with a titanium replacement.
“It makes a good letter opener,” one little boy said of the prosthetic hip.
“Has it got blood on it?” another asked hopefully.
Several young visitors asked for permission to hold the ball of chocolate-bar wrappers that Dahl had made as a young man; he scrunched a new one into the ball each day, after eating his habitual lunchtime treat. (Now hard and surprisingly heavy, the wad resembles a small cannonball.) Still, what seemed to excite the children the most was the paperback collection of Dahl’s own work. “Look!” several of them cried. “There are the books!”
Posted by kevin at July 7, 2005 3:33 PM
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