Bought Boy: Tales of Childhood on the Kindle as my library had deleted their two copies since I last checked! Why? There seems to be this drive by libraries to clear out their back catalogue and only stock new books. When someone says, this place looks like a bookshop, they take it as a compliment. It's not. Libraries should not be faux-bookshops, they should be repositories of history, oddities, overlooked classics ripe for discovery. I know they can't stock everything, but still, it's disappointing when well-loved books like Roald Dahl's autobiography are unceremoniously binned.

Rant over.

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.

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