A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 24
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
If, when she entered the house, she happened to find anything unusual, or tragic, or terrible, then naturally it would be a shock and she’d become frantic with grief and horror. Mind you, she wasn’t expecting to find anything. She was just going home with the vegetables.
Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter” might be the best introduction to his adult fiction. It’s all the keywords you find in the cover blurbs: “wicked”, “clever”, “nasty”, “wry”, etc. If it just had a bit more sex in it, a la My Uncle Oswald, it would be a perfect representation of Dahl for adults.
“Lamb to the Slaughter” begins with Mary Maloney anxiously waiting at home for the return of her overworked police officer husband. It seems Mrs. Maloney is just an old-fashioned housewife, but when hubby rejects her attentions and then makes a shocking confession, Mary erupts into something else entirely.
It’s not an original plot, really. Nor is the violence unexpected—the foreshadowing is pretty heavy-handed, in fact. What makes the story so clever, and so appealing, is the cool clear-headedness of Mary’s act and the ease with which she gets away with it. Meek Mrs. Maloney turns out not to be the lamb of the story at all.
It really is one of the great English short stories, and among the most entertaining as well. Check it out next time your in the library, it’s about 15 minutes of reading you won’t regret.
Review by Matthew