Tuesday, November 29, 2016
A best seller that, for better or worse, reads like one
Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove is a best seller and, well, it reads like one: story of a curmudgeon nearing 60 recently widowed getting by on his own in a what seems to be a townhouse somewhere in the middle of Sweden, cranky with everyone he meets but in such an over-the-top way that you kind of feel for him and recognize that he's needy and lonely and entertaining in his irascibility. First scene shows him buying a computer in an Apple story and arguing with the sales force about what he should (or shouldn't) buy: laptop? ipad (he calls it an opad), etc. - he doesn't understand even the basic terms and his about 5 generations removed from the sales force (question why he would be buying an Apple if he's so ignorant re how to use it; also recognize that Backman may have taken an editor's advice and moved this scene, out of sequence, into the first pages of the novel, because it's pretty funny). Story meanders on as Ove gets angry while replacing a wall hanging - how can some people not even care the right way to do home repairs?, he mutters - and then into a confrontation with a new neighbor who damages his siding and mailbox while backing up a trailer. The new neighbors are Eastern immigrants; they have two cute kids who come over the provide Ove with an Asian rice dish. Grumble, grumble. Can you predict where this novel is going? Might we take a wild guess that this family will change Ove, and he will come to, grudgingly, love the children? Did I mention that this is soon to be a movie? Are you surprised? All that said, it's a sweet story and easy to read and, in part out of interest in Sweden, I'll stay w/ it.