The Way Up to Heaven Background

The Way Up to Heaven Background

According to Roald Dahl - at least in this short story anyway - the way up to Heaven is not through good deeds, or selflessness, or attention to others, but via a broken elevator in a fancy family home, although he never actually comes out and states this in the story, but insinuates that his protagonist, Mrs Foster, has finally come to the end of her rope with her husband's mind games and shenanigans and has left him trapped in a broken elevator for six weeks whilst she visits their daughter in Europe. The Fosters' elevator does not bring nearly so much fun and joy as the Great Glass Elevator that Dahl is far better known for.

"The Way Up To Heaven' is a short story that Dahl penned in 1954 for "The New Yorker" magazine, and is known for being one of his more macabre pieces of work. It was later included in a volume of short stories published in 1960, entitled "Kiss Kiss". Critics raved over the anthology; Lorna Bradbury, Deputy Literary Editor of "The Daily Telegraph", listed the collection as one of the twenty five classic novels for teenagers, whilst Zoe Chance, of National Public Radio, called it the perfect collection of stories for any adult who found themselves to be not really in love with their spouse. Mrs Foster is a prime example of this; husband and wife are polemically different but rather than try to lessen the stress of each other with compromise, they become more entrenched in their ways, and Mr Foster, in particular, seems to get a great deal of pleasure from winding his wife up to a state of near hysteria with his refusal to ever be ready to go anywhere on time, as if trying to sabotage every trip that they ever take before they even take it.

As if to emphasize the story's macabre plot, it was dramatized in a 1958 episode of Alfred Hitchcock's television series "Suspicion", and after that was shown on British television in 1979 as part of Dahl's television serial "Tales of the Unexpected".

Some Dahl fans were surprised, almost shocked, that he had such an unsentimental and dark side to his writing, but even his children's books show this side of him within the childish romp and adventure; almost all are darkly comic in nature, and almost all have adult villains whom the child characters need to outwit and vanquish. The Mystery Writers of America presented Dahl with three Edgar Awards for his writing directed at adults.

Roald Dahl passed away at the age of seventy-four, in November 1990, and was given a Viking-esque funeral by his family. He was buried with his pool cues, a good burgundy, some pencils, and a power saw.

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