Friday, 16 September 2011

The Magic Finger

I've come to Roald Dahl quite late. Most of it really wasn't written in time for my own childhood, but I've been introduced to him via my son. Roald Dahl is certainly a favourite with Australian primary school teachers of the naughties. I've read much of his children's work now, but still have a few titles that I haven't read. My favourites thus far are The BFG and The Minpins.

To celebrate Roald Dahl Day this year I decided to read The Magic Finger. Not a well known title for me. The Magic Finger is actually one of his earlier titles for children, published in 1966. An unnamed 8 year old girl lives next door to the Gregg family. The Greggs are all keen hunters, shooting deer and ducks. The girl doesn't like hunting at all, and when she doesn't like things her Magic Finger gets going. The girl is almost like a sketch for Matilda in a way. The book is quite anti-hunting, and I was surprised to find it was published so early, on reading it I presumed it was one of his later works. I'm glad to have read it though.

Every time I read something about Roald Dahl I'm more surprised by him. He wrote screenplays in the 60s for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a James Bond You Only Live Twice. In the back of The Magic Finger there are two pages describing A Day in the Life of Roald Dahl. He liked to take a leisurely breakfast in bed and read his mail. He would go to his writing shed in the garden at 1030, then work til midday. On returning to the house he would typically lunch on Norwegian prawns, mayonnaise and lettuce, washed down with a gin and tonic. I'm liking him more and more! He would then have an afternoon nap, and return to write between 4 and 6. I now feel that I'm much more cut out for the life of a famous writer than I am for that of the workaday drone existence that I remain condemned to.


Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I read with interest your account of the Roald Dahl kiddie-lit, but really laughed at your last sentence! Bravo!


Trish said...

Roald Dahl is a favourite in our house. Our children loved the stories and characters and we loved reading them out loud, often laughing right along. The illustrations are lots of fun, too.

The Daemon said...

I'm not sure if you've already read or reviewed it, but my favourites are Danny the Champion of the World and also the short story collection The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar (both a bit more grown up I suppose). Also, have you seen the Wes Anderson film version of Fantastic Mr Fox? I loved it!

Louise said...

Genie, I think it's important to take lessons on a life well lived where ever you find them.

Trish- yes there's many reasons that he has such an enduring popularity.

Dee-I haven't read either of those! I recently bought a pack of Dahl's work for adult readers and it has the Henry Sugar book in it, so I have it here ready to go. I see even more Dahl in my future....

Cipriano said...

Just the other day I was listening to a recording [on the radio] of Dahl reading from The Giant Peach -- and wow, I just loved his voice, his accent.
Sad to say, I have yet to read any of his books.