Monday, 8 April 2013

Jonas Jonasson's "The 100-Year-Old Man" (book review)

"If you've ever stepped in a heap of sticky, very fresh elephant shit then you'll know it's virtually impossible to keep your balance."

I am a complete sucker for a comedy.  I absolutely love books with a good sense of humor, and if they are able to literally make me laugh tea out my nose, all the better.  I think the reason I love humorous books so much is because they are one of the very few types of books that actually manage to elicit an emotional response from me.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not the kind of person who gets "scared" or "moved to tears" by books.  They just don't trigger those kinds of reactions for me.  But a truly funny book has the power to make me actually laugh out loud, and that is why I love them so much.  Christopher Moore and Neil Gaiman are among my favorite authors for these reasons.  And while Gaiman is probably considered fantasy before comedy, if you've read Good Omens then you know exactly why I classify him as a humor writer as well.

It's been quite a little while since I've read anything truly humorous.  I've been on a bit of a teen drama, adult drama, too much drama tilt as of late.  Which is why I was thoroughly, truly glad to read Jonas Jonasson's The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared.

Great cover too, in my opinion.

In order to obtain a copy of this book from my local public library, I actually had to wait over three months to get to the top of the holds list.  There were literally dozens of people waiting to read this recent bestseller.  Conveniently for me, book club this month picked bestsellers as our genre, so 100-Year-Old Man ended up pulling double-duty in that regard and as comedy relief.

In the 100-Year-Old Man, centarian Allan Karlsson decides to start over and climbs out the window of his retirement home on his 100th birthday.  The highly idiosyncratic senior citizen then proceeds on a romp across the Swedish countryside which comes to include stealing a suitcase full of money, accidental murder, and a motley crew of accomplices including a thief, an evangelized fraudster, and a farmer and her elephant.  Obviously, mayhem ensues.

100-Year-Old Man does not proceed in a strictly linear fashion.  Episodes from unpolitical Allan Karlsson's life are all highly political, as he plays a role in some of the 20th century's key events and gains the ear of many prominent figures across several continents.  The total ridiculousness of both Allan's overly lucky history and his current adventure is part of what makes the book very enjoyable and outrageously funny.  Yet Allan's frank and honest nature makes his tales seem believable.  With child-like honesty Allan blows up his childhood home, insults Stalin and nearly causes multiple international incidents, all without a hint of malice.  The overall result is a book that is just pure fun; one that cannot be taken too seriously or analyzed too deeply.

I would highly recommend Jonas Jonasson's The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Dissapeared to anyone who enjoys literature in translation, or a good solid laugh.  It is a highly joyful, exciting book with a tidy happy ending.  Most of all, it is perfect light reading if you're experiencing a bit too much seriousness in your life or literature.

No comments:

Post a comment