Shortness has its virtues. In books. And sometimes in life. The theme of growing big (and small) is the slender thread at the heart of George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, best known as a children's author.
Before you finish reading this review, go out, buy The Collected Stories of Roald Dahl (his adult work), and read it.
Ok, now that you've done that, on to George's Marvelous Medicine. A kid's book, but more than that, a good, maybe even great book.
It is concentrated. A short story really, but with the storytelling heft of a full novel, weighing in at something like 82 large-fonted, illustration-studded pages. But don't let that deter you. Anyone who's ever been pissed off and put upon by any authority figure (all of us!) will love it. It's a vicious revenge tale.
Dahl has said that, especially when writing for children, you can't pull your punches. He said, "Unless you put everything you've got in it, unless you write from the heart, the kids will have no use for it. They'll see you're having them on...there's nothing kids hate more than that."
This discipline makes for a great adult read too.
The book paints vivid pictures. It's funny, angry. And as an extra bonus, I was delighted to come across the line "disappear completely!" in it. Had Thom Yorke and his pals in Radiohead been influenced by George's medicine when they wrote How to Disappear Completely? One would like to think so. George's Marvelous Medicine reads like a quirky Radiohead song. And that is a good thing indeed.
'Til next time... Ken Krimstein Mr. Krimstein is a professor, writer, cartoonist, father, and grump who use to live in New York City but now resides in Chicago. So there.