My Uncle Oswald – Roald Dahl

From Amazon

I know that Roald Dahl is most famous for his children’s books, but this book really isn’t for anyone under eighteen. So if you want to read about some relatively NSFW stuff, read on.

When Oscar Cornelius, a wealthy schoolboy, acquires a powder that causes an overwhelming arousal in whoever ingests it, his scheme to sell the substance in tiny little pills is an overnight success. Years later, he collaborates with an underpaid Oxford don and a beautiful woman called Yasmin to collect the sperm of famous men to sell to rich women. What follows is a series of vignettes consisting of Yasmin feeding celebrities the powder in the form of dainty little chocolates, and absconding with the results of their excitement.

I’m fairly certain that Dahl is among the top hundred writers in the English language, of the last century, anyway. His main strength is his great humour, with his characters consistently saying or doing funny things. My Uncle Oswald is set before the Second World War, so some of the Oscar’s victims might not be familiar to readers. There’s also an element of Prince Philip-style racism, particularly when Dahl specifies the love-making habits of each nation. Oh, and there’s a fair bit of homophobia when they meet Proust. Dahl probably set his book so far in the past to avoid getting sued for defamation.

And then there’s the sex itself. In my experience most sex-scenes are guaranteed groan-getters. I suspect that they are no longer worth having in conventional fiction – there’s always the Internet for unnervingly specific erotic prose. So Dahl’s strategy of having Yasmin rely the highlights of her bedroom escapes comes as a relief, since she focuses on the comedic (and occasionally slapstick) parts of her adventures.

If you can ignore racism and homophobia, can recognise some influential figures from the twentieth century, and if you’re not particularly squeamish about reading fictional people get it on, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

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