Friday, January 16, 2015

Deal Me In 2015: Story #1 (Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl)


The first card I drew for the Deal Me In Short Story challenge was the 6 of Spades. Thus, my first story is "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl.

This was one of the few stories in my Deal Me In list that  I was already familiar with, by reputation. It had been discussed under the topic of unusual murder weapons. This story is in a collection of mystery stories, and the theme of the collection is food and eating. When I chose this story for my list, I had no idea how well known it is.

Mary Maloney waits eagerly for her husband, a policeman, to come home from work; it is their regular night to go out for dinner. She is six months pregnant, and is portrayed  as a loving wife. When her husband arrives, he is short with her, and decides to break some bad news to her; that he will be leaving her but she will be taken care of. She finds it difficult to believe or to react to; on automatic, she goes into the kitchen to prepare supper.

This story was chilling and dark but not depressing. It was a great read and it was not what I expected, even knowing a bit about it going in.

Reading this story has convinced me to try more Roald Dahl short stories. While looking into the story I saw some comparisons to another story by this author, "The Landlady." I read it and it is just as chilling as "Lamb to the Slaughter." That story won the 1960 Edgar for Best Short Story. In 1954, Dahl won the Best Short Story Edgar for "Someone Like You."

I read this story in Murder on the Menu, but it has been reprinted in many collections. It is available online here or here.

Resources:


My Deal Me In list of short stories is here. Jay at Bibliophilopolis hosts the challenge.



18 comments:

  1. Tracy, thank you very much for mentioning my review. I grew up thinking Roald Dahl was a children's author but his stories appeal equally to both young and old. I'll be reading his other works this year.

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    1. Prashant, I will definitely seek out more stories by Dahl. Maybe even some of his children's books.

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  2. TracyK: I do not think I have read any short stories in the last year. I used to read them but in the last 15 years it is a rare day I am reading a short story.

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    1. I haven't read any short stories for a long time either, Bill. And I thought I did not like the short form. I certainly had a good start with this one.

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  3. I'll bear this one in mind if I need to kick-start my reading at some point.
    I used to like the TV series TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED which must have been on UK screens 30 years ago, based on Dahl's stories. This one featured - not that I remembered, I just looked it up

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    1. Col, I had heard of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED but did not connect it with Dahl. I think there have been several adaptations, even a stage play?

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  4. Great start to your Deal Me In challenge! I have to admit I always thought of Daahl as a "children's author" too, but that is clearly not the case.

    Hope the coming fortnight deals up another good story for you. :-)

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    1. You are right, Jay, this was the perfect start. I was so excited with this I wished I had gone for a weekly short story. But realistically I know I need to start slow and not put too much pressure on myself.

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  5. Tracy - This is one of my all-time top short stories! So glad you enjoyed it too. May I also recommend Dahl's The Landlady...

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    1. I first heard of this story, Margot, at your blog, in the comments. I was just lucky it showed up in one of my books. Good recommendation.

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  6. So, you can teach an old dog new tricks! As an old dog -- with fleas and slobber to prove my credentials -- I now know that RD did a lot more than write great stories for kids (and old dogs). (And thanks, Margot, for the other Rx title.) Now, as a related point, I wonder if it is too late for Rin-Tin-Tin here to jump into the short story challenge. Hmmm. What would I choose? Now, though, I am journeying over to the source of the challenge to investigate further. Then I will know if my blog -- Beyond Eastrod -- can handle yet another editorial amendment; I could call it "Another Thursday Morning in My Shorts." Well, maybe that title needs work.

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    1. R.T., I am sure it is not too late to join the challenge. And whether you do that or not, I also think it would be great if you covered some short stories on your blog.

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    2. Well, as something like a response to your "challenge," I have this to offer:

      http://beyondeastrod.blogspot.com/2015/01/announcing-new-beyond-eastrod-feature.html

      Perhaps you will visit and comment every now and then. The more the merrier!

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    3. Sounds good, R.T. I will do that.

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  7. I remember enjoying Tales of the Unexpected as a kid. This story is one of his best. I recommend the anthology Kiss, Kiss. Lots of good, twisted little tales like this tone. It's fun.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, James. I never thought I would care for twisted tales but this one was fun.

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  8. I love this story. When I was younger we associated Roald Dahl with his clever, very grown-up stories, not his children's books. He wrote dozens of them, and they were very popular - most of them had a clever twist. As Col said, they were on TV too.

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    1. Moira, I think I was first aware of Dahl as the husband of Patricia Neal. And of course I was aware of his children's books. I am new to his stories though. He was an interesting person.

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