Thursday, 11 November 2021

Mostly an entertaining story

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Oh dear! This is the first book I've seriously considered not finishing, yet it started so well.

Allan Karlsson, never "given to pondering things too long", steps out of the window of his ground floor room in an old people's home, and sets in motion a series of tragic yet comic events. By chapter five we know a little about Allan's childhood, and his philosophy of life, "Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be. That meant, among other things, that you didn’t make a fuss, especially when there was good reason to do so".

Current events and Allan's past exploits are revealed to be increasingly surreal. We learn that he likes to drink vodka and can't abide talking about politics. Nonetheless, he plays a large part on the geopolitical stage.

It's all very entertaining. So why was it difficult to finish? Jonas Jonasson crosses the line of credibility and the story becomes increasingly incredulous. For example the introduction of Sonya the elephant serves only to provide a comic death. Once this has happened the writer finds more and more ridiculous ways of keeping the animal in the plot. In addition, the writing style never draws the reader in. It's too shallow and rarely paints a picture. Even now, after finishing the book, it's hard to imagine how Allan Karlsson differs from the other characters. Only two of them have any sort of visual description, "a young man of slight build, with long, greasy blond hair, a scraggly beard, and a denim jacket with the words Never Again on the back", and a woman with red hair.

Well, I finished it, otherwise how could I write this review? What are we supposed make of Allan Karlsson's attitude? Is it best to go through life not giving a sh*t? Should we not care about politics? Is there a point to it? I don't think so. It would be more in keeping with the book that we're not expected to reflect on it at all. It's mostly an entertaining story and nothing else.

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