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The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories (1997)

de Roald Dahl

Outros autores: Wendy Cooling (Editor), Martin O'Neill (Artista da capa)

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Thirteen stories, selected for teenagers, from Dahl's adult writings, including "The Great Automatic Grammatizator," "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat," and "Vengeance is Mine Inc."
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As the title says, this is a selection of thirteen short stories. Originally selected for teenagers, adults can enjoy the read. These are not the type of stories usually associated with Roald Dahl. These are for an older audience, but they do have elements that can be found in his kids’ books. The unusual names and strange situations.

The title story revolves around a machine that could possibly do away with writers. It is a machine that can be given the mere basics and then write a full-blown novel!

Another story, “Katina,” is about a little Greek girl. It is April 1941, during the Greek campaign. The RAF are fighting to push back the Germans. A couple of the soldiers found a little girl sitting on a pile of rubble staring. She had a wound and they took her to the Doc for treatment.

Communication was difficult, as she didn’t speak English. Luckily there was a Greek interpreter with the troops to help find out about her. When asked why she was sitting where they found her, she told them her family was under the rubble. Katina becomes a part of the division. The soldiers try to teach her English, give her shelter and food. This story is one that has stuck in my head. Dahl makes her so alive, and at the same time paints how harsh war is.

Some of the stories I’d read in “Kiss, Kiss,” which is another short story collection. Each story has a strange twist, and interesting characters. They also show the strength of Dahl’s writing in unusual ideas and character development. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Mar 6, 2021 |
Thirteen short stories, written by Roald Dahl between the 40s and 1980.
Only one- Katina- isnt a "Tale of the Unexpected." Dahl returns to his experience as a WW2 pilot, describing the bombardment of Greece, and an orphan of war who becomes a member of the Unit.; the most emotional of the stories.
Elsewhere we have a wife with a passive-aggressive husband, coming out on top.....a dangerous landlady....some weird and creepy bets. Loved cheating Mrs Bixby, whose plan to "introduce" the costly fur her lover has given her into the home without awakening suspicion goes awry..
Very readable and entertaining. ( )
  starbox | Dec 15, 2020 |
short stories. For adults. I enjoyed them very much. Psychological thriller, ironies, etc. Dahl has a very sharp mind and cutting wit. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
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 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Roald Dahlautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Cooling, WendyEditorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
O'Neill, MartinArtista da capaautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Gesa, Ferran RàfolTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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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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Thirteen stories, selected for teenagers, from Dahl's adult writings, including "The Great Automatic Grammatizator," "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat," and "Vengeance is Mine Inc."

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