Matilda by Roald Dahl
read by Joely Richardson
Roald Dahl was one of the first authors I was aware of. He was not passed down to me by my Anglophile mother, but stumbled across in school at practically every turn. In third grade, there was a copy of The Twits in the classroom, which I promptly stole. (Before puberty, I had an extraordinarily loose grasp on ethics and morality. After puberty, I was anxious and angry all the time. I know which child self I’m teaming up with should the need and time travel arise, although Lord save me from those damned bangs.) In middle school, there was a copy of Roald Dahl’s Boy in one of my classes that I read over and over again, soothed by the format and just how British it all was.
I read as a kid, but not omnivorously. Rather, I read repetitively. Looking back, it was probably a self-soothing gesture, just like my incorrigible fidgetiness. In middle school, one of the books I read repetitively was Roald Dahl’s Boy, his slim autobiography about growing up in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. Already reared on my mother’s taste for British television (To the Manor Born, anyone?) and concurrently watching reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it was perfect for me. I particularly remember the sweets incident, where Dahl and his school friends are given free Cadbury bars as testers. There’s a wonderful Quentin Blake illustration of the young Dahl eating chocolate on a sunny stair, and I loved it. I may not be as huge a Roald Dahl fan as others of my generation, given the ‘90s penchant for adapting his works to film, but that’s still a warm memory for me.