Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The one where I go on and on about an author and two books I love

Jonas Jonasson. First of all, you have an awesome name. Second of all, your books have awesome names. Third of all, your books are awesome stories.

wisdom from The 100-year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared
I'd been keen to read The 100-year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared since I first saw it back when we were nearing the end of our time in London. My idea was to pick it up at the airport en route to Madrid, gaining plane entertainment and increasing my English library over here in one fell swoop. It was not to be - London City does not have a book store worth mentioning, and the next time I got so caught up with all the free stuff in the first class lounge that I quite missed shopping at Heathrow...

"Order it online" was Tall Guy's suggestion. 

But I wanted to buy it in person. I love book shopping! Anyway, the book stayed in the back of my mind, and I thought I'd pick it up on my way back from visiting friends in April (no first class upgrade, so plenty of terminal shopping time). Again, it wasn't meant to be - they were sold out! They did have book two, though, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. How could anyone pass up a book with that title?

I spent the flight (and my commute the following week) reading and doing that awkward trying-not-to-laugh thing you do whilst reading funny books in public, which I have down to a T. I perfected my silent book-laugh in grade two, when my body was shaking with laughter and my eyes were watering with tears thanks to Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume, and my teacher thought I was having some kind of fit. So maybe perfected is exaggerating. I guess it
's more I am really enjoying my hilarious book and don't care or even notice that you see me laughing through my nose than a suave, chic public transport chortle.

The next day, my mom flew into Madrid and she brought with her... a copy of The 100-year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared  because she thought I'd probably enjoy it! Spooky. How did she know?

Apart from being really funny, literature, historical figures and languages are important elements in both stories (wow, two books that hit on most of my hobbies!), and I loved the unbelievably believable take on life they presented. Life is crazy, and things happen in crazy ways. Why not go with it? Why couldn't the same man accidentally tell both Americans and Russians how to build the atom bomb? Why shouldn't a toilet cleaner from South Africa meet a Chinese diplomat and later use their connection to gain a meeting with the Swedish PM? 

I loved how the protagonists made the most out of their situations. Lemons to lemonade in the extreme (as in, "well, since I'm in a gulag, I might as well learn Russian..."). I loved how he tied up the stories, and I knew what happened to even secondary characters ("Well, the Chinese girls drove around to a bunch of places starting with B and bumped into someone who knew their uncle, and somehow they managed to stick it to their old boss in South Africa").

And the 100-year-old man's hilarious encounter with Franco cracked me up and confirmed it - I love Jonas Jonasson and need him to write another book. It's like Anne of Green Gables in 21st Century Sweden hopped up on those colourful gummy fish and Ikea meatballs. Pretty much a perfect read.


  1. That is the BEST review I have read for this crazy, fabulous book. And you are right, amazingly, he ties up all of the loose ends! How did I know you'd like it....??? I just did.

    1. I finished it today! Laughing out loud on the train.