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The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson

HERB JOHNSON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Word on the street is that everybody in the free world has read this book, in 35 languages. But there is a chance that the guy who lives in a shack just east of Manyberries missed it, so this review is for him, and his Sunday night book club.
First off, there is a relationship of sorts between this book and the Millenium series by Stieg Larson, but it’s tenuous at best. The girl with the dragon tattoo and the 100 year old man may come from the same part of the world, but the fictional worlds they inhabit are two different places. Jonasson has a whimsical sense of humour; his books are fun.
Allan Larsson, the elderly man in question, is not given to planning his life, not very much. He climbs out the window to escape his 100th birthday party wearing his slippers and gets on a bus, after stealing a suitcase that turns out to contain a great deal of money.
After that, things get complicated. Allan, with only three years of formal schooling, is an expert on blowing things up and this skill stands him in good stead in a series of flashbacks in which he encounters a goodly number of world leaders, including Harry Truman, Chairman Mao and Winston Churchill, among others.
Allan takes life as it comes. His philosophy is, “It is what it is and whatever will be will be.” When it comes to religion he feels that if you can’t know for sure, there’s not much point in guessing. So he’s pretty laid back. Tends to spend a lot of time in whatever place he finds himself. The one exception is the Gulag, from which he escaped after five years because he really needed a drink.
In addition to the flashbacks, there are adventures he encounters with friends he meets after climbing out the window. These include the red-haired woman who swears a lot and Sonya the elephant. So the tone is whimsical and warm-hearted . . . pure fantasy that makes perfect sense within its own boundaries.
You don’t have to read them in order, but Jonasson’s 2013 book The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden is just as good. Much more linear in construction. A poor girl from Soweto travels to Sweden and spends a lot of time hiding an atomic bomb that isn’t supposed to exist, but does. She gets a lot of help and everything turns out just fine.
There’s a woman who swears a lot in this book, too. Maybe it’s a leitmotif.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Linda Ellis Says:

    Read ’em both.
    Loved ’em both.