Those Quirky Swedes!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Our book club pick this past month was The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.  Hailed as a Forrest Gump-like story, the book follows Allan Karlsson, a 100 year old man who decides he's had enough of the old folks home where he lives, and runs away by climbing out his
window and disappearing into the countryside.  What follows is a novel told alternately in flashback and present day.  As Karlsson and the band of misfits he gathers travel around Sweden to avoid a motorcycle gang that is chasing them (Allan stole a suitcase full of money on a whim in a bus station), the author tells us about his very interesting life prior to his arrival in the old folks home.

I will admit that I only got 50% of the way through this book.  Most of the women in my book club either didn't finish it, or reported liking the modern day story much more than the flashbacks.  I's have to agree.  The vision of this elderly man on the run with a petty criminal, an almost-doctor, a retired nurse, and an elephant was pretty amusing.  And the writing style was very quirky.  In truth, the writing style reminded me a bit of Jospeh Heller in Catch-22, only with way less nonsense and absurdity.  Karlsson's character, an explosives expert by trade, managed to get pulled into almost every major political event of the 20th century, from being at Los Alamos during the building of the atomic bomb, to being hired to blow up Winston Churchill after World War II, to having dinner with Truman...and that's as far as I got, because frankly everything that happened to him was so far fetched I was unable to sustain my suspension of disbelief.

I didn't stop reading because I was hating the book, however.  It was more that I found myself completely apathetic about the characters and what happened to them.  I found there to be very little emotional impact in this book, and it made it difficult for me to really care about what happened to any of the characters.  It was mildly amusing, but not enough so that I felt compelled to keep reading.  That said, the book has a four-star rating on Goodreads and Amazon, and it's been a best-seller, so obviously lots of people do like it.  I guess it's just not my cup of tea.

1 comment:

  1. I've been wondering whether this was the book for me or not. Thanks for the time you took sussing it out in your review.


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