The Bookseller by Roald Dahl

The Bookseller
By Roald Dahl
Read by David Ian Davies
Published:  1987
Length: about 45 minutes
Downloaded from NC Digital Library

This…is not your typical Roald Dahl book. If you’re like me, you associate Dahl with magical flying peaches, chocolate mixed by waterfall, prankster geniuses, bald witches with ‘wig-rash,’ and other such fantastical and beloved things. I read Dahl through my childhood. I adored him. I still adore him. I have introduced him to my own children, through his novels and the movies made from his novels. His stories are part of the food of our lives.

So, it took me completely by surprise to find he had written so many things for adults. So many adult things for adults.

The Bookseller is completely different from anything I’ve ever read by Dahl. The two main characters are… just…smarmy. Completely smarmy. They put the smarm in smarmy. Mr. Buggage and his “secretary” Miss Tottle (their names even sound smarmy, don’t they?) run a bookshop in London, England, called Buggage’s Rare Book Shop. And they DO actually sell books. It’s just not their main source of income. It’s what goes on in the backroom that pays the bills. It is…unsavory. There is unexpectedness of a fraudulent, and sexual, nature going on back there. Uh huh. *eyebrows up and down*

Let’s just say it involves the newspaper and letters, going out every day, to grieving widows of the dearly, and wealthy, departed.

I don’t want to give much more away. I think it’s best left as a surprise. It was completely unexpected, for me, and didn’t jive with my previous experiences with Dahl AT ALL. I suppose adding that this story was published in Playboy should pretty much clue you in. This is not to say that THIS brand new experience with Dahl was BAD. On the contrary, I quite enjoyed this story. Very much so, and I think that is partially because it was SO unexpected. Dahl’s trademark sense of humor was very much intact, if a bit darker than I’m used to. Which is fine, I have a dark sense of humor.

The audiobook was read by David Ian Davies, who did a serviceable job. I enjoyed his performance very much. He has a lovely, deep voice that fit perfectly with the story, I thought. I wasn’t bowled away or anything, but I really enjoyed it all the same. How’s that for contradictory? Anyway, the audiobook was great fun and I hope to read more of Roald Dahl’s adult stories soon.

Warning: be careful how you look up information on this story. The first link I came to gave the entire story away. On a Roald Dahl Fan site too! The shame!

6 thoughts on “The Bookseller by Roald Dahl

  1. I haven’t read this one and didn’t know he wrote anything published by Playboy, but I have read more of his adult (meaning not for kids, not ‘naughty’) short stories and they are very good. I was surprised by them as well when I first discovered them. The first one I ever read was almost Telltale Heart-ish. Can’t remember the title but I do remember that it hooked me. He was a very clever, talented writer. And not just for kids.

  2. This sounds amusing and fun. I’ll have to see if my library system has it. I still have only read his children’s books and one of his autobiographies (which was REALLY good too).

  3. Ana got me a book of his short stories one time, and I positively loved them! (Well, the ones I’ve read–still haven’t finished the entire book.) His kids’ books came after I was a kid, so I never got to enjoy them as a young one. But I have ADORED reading them to the boys!

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