Perhaps calling Boy an autobiography is a bit of a stretch; it's more like a highlights reel, with, as they say in footy circles, some mayo on the top. Roald Dahl selects the most memorable events of his childhood and shares them in his trademark highly-coloured style. There are dead mice, operations without anaesthetic, and lots and lots of flogging. Dahl attended British public schools in the 1920s and 30s and never got over his outrage that masters and senior pupils were licensed to assault younger boys in the name of discipline - not just a tap on the bum, but real, bruising, blood-drawing injuries.
Regulars readers may know that I'm not a massive fan of Roald Dahl's writing; the celebrated streak of darkness and fondness for the gross side of life does not appeal to me and never has. But I found Boy a galloping, engaging read. I took it on the train to amuse me on the way to and from a school visit in Caulfield, and I was started and disappointed when it finished before my train reached Richmond!
I might even read the sequel, Going Solo. But I'm not promising anything.