CBR BINGO: Fauna Square (cat on the cover)
Backman Summer continues and as the kids say: I’m not mad about it. Once I made my way through the two available Beartown books, I knew that I needed to pick this one up as well. I’m sure that I have mentioned in previous reviews that I love, love love a good epic tale. Spanning generations and continents is my bag. In my mind I also tend to throw “epic” around to describe those stories that may span generations (rarely continents) but draw together seemingly disparate characters whose paths seem to cross through happenstance but whose lives become (or already are) entangled in a very beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking but always very satisfying way. This book is the textbook definition of my favorite (and probably mis-categorized) “epic” tale.
The eponymous Ove is a 59 year old man who has been forced into early retirement, has a bum ticker, and is a textbook curmudgeon. A throw back to an era where you kept busy, lived simply, minded your own business and fixed your own stuff. When his routine is disrupted by a personal tragedy as well as the loss of his job, Ove finds himself wondering if there is a purpose to his bumbling around in life anymore.
When a new neighbor spectacularly bungles navigating a moving van and Ove’s mailbox becomes collateral damage, Ove’s routine existence is turned upside down. The flood gates open and pretty much everything and everyone that could go against Ove’s grain comes pouring in, including a pretty mangey cat that may be one of my favorite animals in fiction.
Ugly cried at the end of this one. U-G-L-Y cried. The only criticism that I have is that it did get a wee bit repetitive and while I do love a good Backman simile (they are always so clever) this book banged on that drum a lot more than was strictly necessary. Not a deal breaker. Just something that I noticed.
I am now recommending Backman to EVERYONE I know, and I had an interesting discussion with a friend that I recruited into my Backman Summer ™. He started with Beartown and Anxious People and commented that he found them both to be very different books. It sort of surprised me because I hadn’t really felt that way. To me, the common thread with Backman is community: the good, the bad and the ugly. Community can rescue people but it can also isolate. It can come together to heal or insulate to protect its own at the expense of others. A Man Called Ove nestles very neatly into that idea.