Book Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window


Jonas Jonasson with his cat Molotov

Jonas Jonasson with his cat Molotov and chicks

My friend Kiwi Mary, who is a leader of the World’s Best Book Club (WBBC), highly recommended one of their January selections:  The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window.  OMG.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had so many belly laughs.

Jonas Jonasson, a Swedish author, sets the stage with the book’s dedication:

No one was better at captivating an audience than Grandpa, when he sat on his favorite bench telling stories, leaning on his walking stick and chewing tobacco.

“But Grandpa. . .Is that really true?” we grandchildren would ask, wide-eyed.

“Those who only says what is the truth, they’re not worth listening to,” Grandpa replied.

This is my idea of the perfect ending to one’s life ~ sitting on a rocking chair telling little kids tall tales that make their eyes bug out.

100YRman
Allan Karlsson, the book’s hero, has lived an amazing life for a man with a third-grade education.  He loves his vodka and blowing things up.  After he blew up his house and chicken coop to punish a fox for eating his cat Molotov, Mr. Karlsson found himself in an old folks’ home supervised by a woman who believed vodka would shorten his life expectancy.  Really?  He’s 100.

Mr. Karlsson decided to skip his 100th birthday party (probably because there would be no vodka), crawled out the window, and went on an adventure.

The book flashes back to his improbable vodka-fueled, explosive, adventure-filled life.  He had dinner and drinks with most of the world’s leaders.  My favorite LOL tale brought back my own flash-back to an elephant relieving itself during the taping of Oprah’s 1995 season finale. . .there really was an elephant in the room (two, in fact), and it had the audacity to shit on Oprah!  I will never forget the stench and will perpetually feel sorry for the poor guy who had to clean up the mess.  In the book, a gangster punk meets his demise sandwiched between Sonya’s poop and elephant ass.

The book is touted as a Forrest Gump tale, but I think it is more akin to Garp and madcap British comedies.  There are connecting threads of child abuse as well as a disdain for organized religion and politics simmering throughout the book.  It seems that Mr. Karlsson’s ability to zone out may have prevented the traumatic experiences of his life from mushrooming into PTSD and other stress-related illnesses.

December’s WBBC read was the classic Great Gatsby, with discussions ushered in with speakeasy cocktails, caviar, a recipe for duck from the Yale Club of the 1920’s (updated by chef Deanna, of course), washed down with champagne, white truffle mash and a raspberry desert adorned with rose petals.

In December, 2012, the WBBC read the classic Great Gatsby.

The World’s Best Book Club

The intersection of laughter, intellectual thought, and vodka make The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window a perfect selection for the WBBC which really is the world’s best book club.  This month they are also reading Dominion, a spy-thriller by C.J. Sansom.

December’s read, for instance, was the classic Great Gatsby, with discussions ushered in with speakeasy cocktails, caviar, a recipe for duck from the Yale Club of the 1920’s (updated by chef Deanna, of course), washed down with champagne, white truffle mash and a raspberry desert adorned with rose petals.

December’s Great Gatsby discussions were ushered in with speakeasy cocktails, caviar, a recipe for duck from the Yale Club of the 1920’s (updated by chef Deanna, of course), washed down with champagne, white truffle mash and a raspberry desert adorned with rose petals.

I wish I could join them in Auckland, New Zealand this month.  Today is Kiwi Mary’s 60th birthday, and the WBBC party will be the culmination of a 10-day celebration.

Their a personal chef Deanna prepares gourmet feasts inspired by the month’s book selection.  I’m guessing that vodka and drinks with parasols will be on the menu, and I can already hear the laughter.  The tales Kiwi Mary tells about their parties are as good as the books that they read.

Great Gatsby menu

Great Gatsby menu

She graciously shared the menu and photos of December’s review of The Great Gatsby.

Happy 60th Birthday, Kiwi Mary!  You are a true citizen of the world, fantastic friend, and awesome colleague!  My readers and I wish you the world’s best birthday party!

See Also: Jonas Jonasson: My 100-year-old hero, and the secret of happiness  [The Guardian]

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