‘Man From The South’ by Roald Dahl

Dahl, Roald 1948

Man From The South by Roald Dahl, 1948

The magic trick:

Giving the reader a sense of strangeness even before the truly strange man from the south shows up

It’s October. That means another month of scary stories on the magic tricks website.

This is a classic story that is both creepy and fun. Certainly the twist ending is the most memorable aspect, but I really like the opening section. Dahl writes of the resort world in a way that makes it incredibly unappealing. He’s not taking an outright social-commentary approach, but it’s clear that something is off. The entire setting is a notch away from normal, even as the pool scene with pretty girls and drinks and happy youth should be the picture of normal. And that’s quite a trick on Dahl’s part.

The selection:

I went over and sat down under a yellow umbrella where there were four empty seats, and I poured my beer and settled back comfortably with a cigarette.

It was very pleasant sitting there in the sunshine with beer and a cigarette. It was pleasant to sit and watch the bathers splashing about in the green water.

The American sailors were getting on nicely with the English girls. They’d reached the stage where they were diving under the water and tipping them up by their legs.

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