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Umbrella Man and Other Stories by Roald Dahl
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Umbrella Man and Other Stories (original 1997; edition 2000)

by Roald Dahl

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579317,082 (4.03)10
Member:andrewreads
Title:Umbrella Man and Other Stories
Authors:Roald Dahl
Info:Puffin (2000), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:**1/2
Tags:short stories, fiction

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The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories by Roald Dahl (1997)

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The Great Automatic Grammatizator is a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl. Published in 1997, it is known as The Umbrella Man and Other Stories in the US.

The book contains thirteen stories, The Great Automatic Grammatizator, Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, The Butler, Man From the South, The Landlady, Parson's Pleasure, The Umbrella Man, Katina, The Way Up to Heaven, Royal Jelly, Vengeance is Mine Inc., Taste and Neck. These stories were selected specifically for a teenaged audience. All the stories were published elsewhere originally.

Most of the stories have unexpected endings. Some of them are quite macabre and bizarre.

The eponymous The Great Automatic Grammatizator was a disappointment. It couldn’t really generate the chilling effect it was going for.

Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, Vengeance is Mine Inc. and Taste I don’t care much for.

The Butler is a really short story with a twist ending. I loved the way Dahl manages to create a real surprise ending with so little to go upon.

Man From the South is perhaps the most famous of Dahl’s stories. The ending is what makes this story special.

The Landlady and Parson's Pleasure are both re-reads for me and are good stories with twist endings.

The Umbrella Man is a humorous story with an unexpected ending. I enjoyed reading it.

Katina is the only story in the book without an unexpected ending or any surprise elements in it. It’s supposed to be sad and heart warming but I didn’t feel anything. It was long drawn and boring.

The Way Up to Heaven is a real macabre tale. I find it grisly in spite of the fact that Dahl never actually describes what happens to Mr. Foster. This is the only story of the book where the wife is being abused by the husband and not vice versa.

Royal Jelly was kind of creepy but felt a little rambling.

I enjoyed the narrative style of Neck. But the protagonist is once again a man being unfairly treated by a wicked woman and he ends up turning the tables on her. And once again after Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, the entire introduction to the story is unnecessary and in bad taste.

I’ve read a few of the stories from this collection before. Some of the stories like Man From the South, The Way Up to Heaven and Neck are still as fresh as when I read them the first time. But others like The Landlady and Parson's Pleasure are definitely not the kind of stories you read for a second time. Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, Vengeance is Mine Inc. and Taste, I barely skimmed through.

The language is somewhat odd at places. The Great Automatic Grammatizator and The Umbrella Man are kind of strangely narrated.

Dahl comes across as a bit of a misogynist at times. His Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat is a big example of that. Granted Mrs. Bixby got her just desserts but the entire prelude to the story was totally unnecessary. It was just in bad taste. The same goes with the story Neck. And the whole betting scene in Taste is just too ludicrous. Seriously, women are not inanimate objects or someone’s property. I don’t think people (at least decent people) bet on their female relations.

My favourite stories are Man From the South, The Umbrella Man, The Way Up to Heaven and Neck. The Butler and Royal Jelly are pretty good. The Great Automatic Grammatizator, Katina and Vengeance is Mine Inc., I found really dull. I really disliked Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat and Taste.

The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories is a good introduction to Roald Dahl’s writings for an adult audience. An overall satisfying collection of short stories. ( )
3 vote Porua | Sep 23, 2010 |
The Great Automatic Grammartizator and Other Stories
Paperback, 264 pages

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More
Paperback, 213 pages

Roald Dahl
Published by Puffin Books

I recently developed a fascination for the works of Roald Dahl, perhaps years too late. But better late than never. I found the 2001 Puffin Books editions irresistible and decided that it's probably a good investment for my personal library.

Both books in this column are aimed at teenage readers, but of course, older readers will likely also enjoy them. The number of stories in both volumes total up to 20. Because I'm feeling cheeky today, I'm going to talk about some of the stories but not specify which book it came from.

Unless it's really obvious... like The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

In the beginning of his story, Henry Sugar is a rich and selfish man. His main concern in life is making sure that he stays wealthy. He stumbles upon a strange story in a friend's library, written by a doctor who interviewed an Indian who can see without using his eyes.

The doctor's story conveniently describes how the Indian achieved this, so Henry followed the instructions. Three years and three months passed before he perfected his yogi-inspired powers.

But something happened to Henry in that time. He no longer finds pleasure in casinos and the shallow pursuit of riches. Yet he possesses the skill to clean out any casino he chooses to play in. An incident with a policeman gave him an idea, and Henry sets out to do good.

It's also rather obvious which book The Great Automatic Grammartizator came from.

Adolph Knipe's invention, the great automatic computing engine, is a success but Knipe is feeling depressed. By night, he is a writer, and not a very successful one either.

When sent home by his boss Mr Bohlen for a well-deserved holiday, Knipe mourns his failure as a writer before hitting upon an idea. After spending all of his holiday thinking about it, he convinces Mr Bohlen to back him on this and invented what is virtually an automatic story writing engine, able to produce works depending on the target audience.

Any writer, especially those who've ever gotten a reject slip, could appreciate the wicked humour behind this piece.

Another one with wicked humour that made me laugh out loud ("LOL" to you Internet people) at the end is "Mrs Bixby and The Colonel's Coat". Mrs Bixby have been having an affair with someone only known to us as the Colonel. Her carefully concealed trips have been successful so far, until the Colonel gave her a luxurious mink coat.

There was no way Mrs Bixby will be able to explain this to her husband. She devises a plan on the way home and left the coat in a pawn shop. Upon returning home, she tells Mr Bixby that she found a pawn ticket in the taxi she took, and sent him off to collect. That's where the fun begins.

A story that I found particularly harrowing to read comes under the peaceful-sounding title of The Swan.

Precocious Peter Watson is unfortunate enough to be out in the woods birdwatching alone when local bullies Ernie and Raymond came along. They made him their captive and subjects him to the kind of cruelty we associate with people who grow up to become serial killers.

First, they tied Peter to the train tracks and let him believe that he'll be run over. Finally, they shot a swan, cut her wings off and tied them to Peter's arms. They made him climb a tree as high as he could go and made him jump.

The surprise came when Peter discovers that he is one of those souls whom bullies will never break.

Dahl delights with his humour, yet some stories contain a sensitivity that moved me. As an extra bonus, one of these books contain Dahl's account on how he got his luck break into writing, as well as his very first published piece. Both of these pieces offer a glimpse into how this surprising man accidentally became one of the greatest authors in modern literature.

(2006)
  tarlia | Feb 20, 2008 |
Original and entertaining teen stories from Cardiff's best known author. ( )
  miketroll | Feb 23, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roald Dahlprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooling, WendyEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Neill, MartinCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Well, Knipe, my boy. (The Great Automatic Grammatizator)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Thirteen stories, selected for teenagers, from Dahl’s adult writings.  This collection with the same group of stories is published in the UK as "The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories" and in the US as "The Umbrella Man and Other Stories".
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Book description
The Great Automatic Grammatizator

Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat

The Butler

Man From the South

The Landlady

Parson's Pleasure

The Umbrella Man

Katina

The Way Up to Heaven

Royal Jelly

Vengeance is Mine Inc.

Taste

Neck
Contiene due racconti:
Il libraio che imbrogliò l'Inghilterra (The bookseller)
Lo scrittore automatico (The Great Automatic Grammatisator)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142400874, Paperback)

Is it really possible to invent a machine that does the job of a writer? What is it about the landlady's house that makes it so hard for her guests to leave? Does Sir Basil Turton value most his wife or one of his priceless sculptures? These compelling tales are a perfect introduction to the adult writing of a storytelling genius.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Thirteen tales of horror and hilarity from master storyteller.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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