Thursday, September 08, 2005

"The Wish" by Roald Dahl

"Step on a crack... " When you were a child, perhaps you played games similar to the ones the boy in this story plays. Let us hope your fate was nowhere as dire as his! Read by Scoot.

We dare not speak the name of the famous book and movie which most people--or at least children--know originates with this Welsh author. Well, maybe we can say James and the Giant Peach. But, like Shel Silverstein or even C. S. Lewis, Mr. Dahl was not your typical children's author, but wrote a great deal for adults as well--and his vision was, in general, every bit as misanthropic and eccentric as that character Johnny Depp most recently played. "Nasty" in its most delightfully British connotation might be apt, as well. Whether much of it is "great" literature (whatever that is) or not, his work is enjoyable, and enjoyably packaged in several short story collections. Now, we're sure the interweb is filled with intimate details of Mr. Dahl's life, but here we refrain. We will tell you that both his daughter Tess and granddaughter Sophie are children's book writers. Research him as you will...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"The Black Sheep" by Italo Calvino

This is a short fable about a country whose ethics, in the end, might not be that dissimilar to the one you live in. In a flock of black sheep, it is of course the white one which stands out. Translated from the Italian by Tim Parks and read by Scoot.

You haven't read Numbers in the Dark, the collection where this story originates? Never read Invisible Cities, either? Haven't even heard of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler? The Baron in the Trees? Surely this can't be true, because Italo Calvino is one of the greatest of Italian writers, of the last century or any other. Folk tales inspired him (he anthologized many himself) and tales of imagination and delight poured from his pen; he also published literary essays and transcriptions of his lectures. Interestingly, he was born in Cuba and fought the Nazi occupation of northern Italy during the Second World War. He died twenty years ago, but his legend, as they say, lives on.

By the way, we really do promise to update this website this week and start publishing again on a more regular basis. At least we'll try to!