Monday, November 13, 2017

A Man Called Ove

Photo: the paperback's cover, from its Goodreads page

Outstanding book, alternately funny and sad, wise and silly, that became a huge bestseller around the world via word-of-mouth--a true rarity. The author, a Swede living in Stockholm, hadn't had a bestseller before, but the grapevine took off with this one, and rightly so. You should read it.

Ove is an older man who loses his wife and his job in six months. Like most of us, especially as we get older, his life revolves around those two things, and with them both gone, he's got nothing. Or so he thinks. He spends a great deal of time not living, both before he met his wife and after she died, and this book is a good warning to not live that way. Your life is what you make of it, so you'd better make something of it.

The book is never preachy, but it seems very true. Things turn out pretty well, and almost everyone in it is like the Abominable--good people inside who just need someone to flesh it out. It's a little too nice and neat at the end, but that's the kind of pleasant book it is, and you'll be okay with that, even if you're not normally, in books and in daily life. I'm sure as hell not, and it worked really well for me.

Also true to know is that Ove is an older guy who is the definition of a curmudgeon. I've often been called a little grumpy myself, and the thing to know, this book says, is that such people a) have reasons for being that way, all sad and unbelievable, and b) that's not all who and what they are.

What is also good and rare about Ove is that he is no talk and all action (Stupid is as stupid DOES), and that he has a set standard of morals and life lessons he lives by that seem strict and unbending only to those who don't have them and who don't understand those who do. I speak from experience here. But he is a very strong and steadfast guy, of a high moral compass, even if he does come across as just a tick easier to deal with than Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. But where Melvin Udall (the character name just came to me) has a clinical obsessive-compulsive diagnosis (which Ove may also share), Ove has a life of hard knocks and solitary strength that has led him to become this man. 

Seeing him learn to live life again, and yet stay true to his own character, is a helluva ride that you'll want to take. And you won't forget that you took it. I recommend this book very, very much.

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