2015 Reading Challenge – Book #20 – Kiss Kiss

Book #20 – A book of short stories – Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl
Genre: Short Stories
Published: 1960
Country: USA

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I love short stories. The characterizations, the setting, the descriptions – everything is almost exact and precise like measurements for baking a cake. Words are not wasted and the story puts you in the middle of the action almost right away with no time to lose. That is why I strongly feel short stories bring out the very best (or worst!) of an author’s talent.

I was pleasantly surprised to read famous children’s author Road Dahl’s collection of short stories for adults. 11 stories which had first been published in different places, have been compiled into Kiss Kiss.

‘Expect the Unexpected’ – that was what was written on the cover image and that is exactly what I got. I really had no idea what to expect when I started reading but I was shocked and other times horrified because most of the stories are quite spine-chilling. They don’t exactly fall into the horror genre as there are no ghosts or spirits but cold-blooded murder and human nature play a very pivotal role in a very eerie psychopathic way. Some of the stories are just plain grotesque and will leave you with your hair raised on one end. Then there are a couple which are quite hilarious while some leave you feeling a bit of pity for the characters. The endings of most of them are implied, not revealing exactly what transpired but giving the reader the chance to speculate.

The stories are a varied bunch, set in either Britain or America with all sorts of characters – an obsessed beekeeper, a motherly landlady, a cheating wife, a couple of meek wives, a reincarnation of a cat, a woman-fearing Reverend (yes, he was more fearful of women than of God!), a vegetarian chef, an antique-dealer and many others. What I really found fascinating were the bits and pieces of real information that was imparted in these stories – from biology to history and also some know-how into the animal kingdom. It was very intriguing to see how Dahl had used all this knowledge and played around with it to create such unique plots with unexpected twists and turns and unpredictable characters.

The book is definitely a page-turner. The writing is very typically British charming with mentions of countrysides and farmhouses coupled with matronly women and one of the stories also signifies the increasing rate of divorce in 1950’s America. The vivid descriptions of people, places and things are very striking and you are able to clearly imagine the setting and characters in your mind’s eye.

She was a wonderful woman, my mother. She used to wear huge bracelets on her wrists, five or six of them at a time, with all sorts of things hanging from them and tinkling against each other as she moved. It didn’t matter where she was, you could always find her by listening for the noise of those bracelets. It was better than a cowbell. And in the evenings, she used to sit on the sofa in her black trousers with her feet tucked up underneath her, smoking endless cigarettes from a long black holder. And I’d be crouching on the floor, watching her.

I enjoyed this book immensely and if you’re into stories with elements of surprise and unpredictability, then you should definitely not give this a miss.

Book Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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