James and the Giant Peach

“”My dear young fellow,” the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, “there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.””

Roald Dahl

In a shocking turn of events, I have been listening to more audiobooks, and I happened to come across a dramatised recording of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.

Now, I remember having the video of James and the Giant Peach when I was small, and I could never watch it because it scared me half to death. There was something about the combination of evil aunts, giant bugs (what is it with talking spiders and children’s books?) and random cloud-people flinging hailstones that, unsurprisingly, terrified me.

In case you hadn’t guessed from the title, James and the Giant Peach is about orphaned James Trotter who goes for a ride in a giant peach with some giant bugs.

Because that sounds like the kind of story an impressionable five-year-old would want to hear.

My conclusion is that this is a very weird book. “But it’s Roald Dahl,” people say, “of course it’s going to be weird.” To which I say, no, this is weird even for Roald Dahl. My argument, admittedly, rests mainly on the giant bugs. Which, by the way, apparently like a bit of a sing-song every now and again, not very tunefully according to this, ahem, interesting recording. Oh, and Dahl seems altogether too gleeful about the destruction of evil aunts Spiker and Sponge. Yes, I know they’re evil, but being squashed by a peach seems a bit too gruesome even for them. (And thank you for the sound effects, by the way, Mr Record Producer.)

I just read that last sentence back and have come to the inevitable conclusion. Roald Dahl was clearly high when he wrote this. But then, so was Coleridge. So that’s all right then.

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