Another splendid little find from the fine folks at BookBub. Fredrik Bachman is a Swedish blogger and writer who created the character of Ove, a cantankerous and curmudeonly older man for his blog. Apparently Ove was so popular, Backman was persuaded to wrote a whole novel featuring him. When I read that, it gave me pause because there are plenty of artisitc endeavors that are wonderful in small bites but become dreadful when over-stretched. And while premise sounded like it could get into that treacly territory championed by the likes of Mitch Albom, I threw caution to the wind and dove in.
“People said he was bitter. Maybe they were right. He’d never reflected much on it. People also called him antisocial. Ove assumed this meant he wasn’t overly keen on people. And in this instance he could totally agree with them. More often than not people were out of their minds.”
Ove is indeed an unpleasant old man but as his story unfolded, I learned so much about him and his circumstances that I began to thaw toward him. To be sure, his rants are often hilarious and almost always spot-on. But that’s not all there is to him. He is mourning the loss of his beloved wife, the one that was the color to his black and white view of the world. He has recently been laid off from his job and in a modern world that increasingly marginalizes the elderly, he has found little reason to go on. It’s tricky territory to make light of this man’s repeated attempts at suicide and I have to commend Mr. Backman for walking that fine line successfully.
A wonderful, thoughtful novel with all the humor and pain of the human experience: I defy to to not laugh and cry (often within moments) as you spend time with this remakable character.