Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roald Dahl Day

Today has been set aside as a day to honor Roald Dahl - on this day in 1916 he was born. It's been interesting to see this day littered with controversy. The garden shed or "hut" in which he wrote needs some new attention. His family wants to move it from their family land to a museum of all things Roald Dahl and they are asking for money to do so. The controversy is - they have profited so much from his books and the movies and merchandise that people feel it's only right that they pay for the move themselves. To be honest, I don't know how I feel. On one hand, I suspect if they could afford to it themselves, they would but then people are funny. I, also, feel like it wouldn't be too hard to raise the money to help, after all a good deal of money was raised to help Nathan Fillion by the rights to Firefly after he made a comment about needing the money (it was just a comment, not a serious thought but people ran with it).
What does bother me is that this is the story that is commemorating a great man. I grew up with Roald Dahl books and stories but I didn't know much about the man and honestly, never gave it much thought. It wasn't until my son became a huge fan that I started paying attention to him as an author. I had never connected the dots that the same man who wrote Willy Wonka wrote The Witches (both movies I adored and ashamedly admit I hadn't read the books as a child). For me, I was an avid reader but somehow he slipped through my reading cracks. I have enjoyed many of his books as an adult with my son. It never occurred to me to learn more about this man (I am one who doesn't associate the work with the creator of the work).
I didn't know he wrote adult fiction and in fact wrote the plot to my favorite Alfred Hitchcock episode "Lamb to the Slaughter" - where a woman kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then serves it to the police when they come to question her.
His first big children's story was James and the Giant Peach (1961) followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He adapted Ian Flemming novels for movies including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I strongly suggest taking time to read his biography at his website - this was a man who deserves to be studied. He was an amazing man as well as an amazing writer and I'm glad that today is his day.

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