This year I’m blogging once a month about finishing reading everything Roald Dahl wrote. Full disclosure: I’m not a Dahl scholar, just a humble fan of his work. This is a lay endeavor, perhaps not even all that fascinating to others. We’ll see. By the end, I hope to be able to say “I’ve read everything written by Roald Dahl!” or at least “I’ve read everything Roald Dahl wrote save for that one play I can’t seem to find a script for.” Something like that.
Dirty Beasts is a companion to Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. My father bought me Revolting Rhymes when I was young, and I remember thinking was absolutely hilarious. I have no idea if it would induce side-eye and skeptical eyebrow now, as did many of the pieces in Dirty Beasts. Though, to be fair, I liked this book better than Rhyme Stew which I’ll get to in a moment here.
So… Dirty Beasts. It contains nine poems, all about animals such as the pig, the scorpion, and the anteater. (Wikipedia thoughtfully lets us know, however, that “The Tummy Beast” is made up—who says it’s not a reliable source?) Many of them are enjoyable if you’re into the schadenfreude and misanthropy of Dahl (and if you’re not, I’m not sure why you’re reading this). The pig from “The Pig,” for example, doesn’t need a spider and a whimsical plan to save himself from being butchered—instead, he just up and murders the farmer… and eats him. Nice!
In fact, animals devouring humans is a major—dare I?—motif in Dirty Beasts. “The Ant-Eater,” in another justice-for-exploited-animals story, eats an aunt. The lion is super into devouring kiddies. Crocky-Wock, the Crocodile, also enjoys a spot of child. My personal favorite was not one of these, however—it was “The Porcupine” which isn’t so much about porcupines as how terrifying dentists are.