There is something about popular things. You just jump into the wagon because everyone else seemed to have enjoyed it. The wagon pulls the engine and the journey begins. After 5-10 minutes itself you start getting the feeling that perhaps this journey is not what I would enjoy. But then you see the fellow passengers going Gaga over the same. You start questioning your instinct and continue the process. But by half of the journey, you become confident that what everyone here are enjoying to extremes, you are just getting nausea out of it. But now with fingers crossed you just hope things to get better and make it to the last station. Something similar is my experience of the book, “A Man Called Ove” by Frederick Backman. With Goodreads rating of 4.36, this book was just what I wanted to get over with.
The story is about a Swedish man called Ove. He is extremely mechanical, doesn’t understand things other than in his own way, is a widower to a very happy lady Sonja, and has now been asked to retire from his office in the railway. Ove doesn’t think there is any point in living now and has decided to take his life. But life has other plans. Everytime he decides to pull the trigger or choke him with carbon monoxide in his Saab, or just hang himself to death, there comes one or the other interruption. A new neighbour completely takes over his life with her two kids, a husband and a pregnant belly. Over the length of the book Ove who has lived more than 55 years of his life being asocial and unconcerned about the world, gets transformed into a person who sleeps with a stray cat on his bed, fixing things in people’s houses etc and thus being treated as a Hero of the neighborhood appearing on the local newspaper too. Thank God the book has ended.
Why I absolutely did not like the book is because first of all there is no depth to the characters. How the characters are and what they think when they are all alone in a room or walking on a street have just not been given a thought. That is one thing I always look for in a book, how does a character behave when no one’s looking, when they are most vulnerable. Secondly I see no possibility of a person transforming so radically into a new person over few months when you have been a different person all throughout your life. Thirdly I loathe people who are over interfering, personally as well as in fiction. And that’s what Ove’s neighbours keep doing, taking decisions for him without asking him.
Overall I am glad the book is over. There are couple of good quotes in the book but that’s fine. I am out of this wagon. You can buy the book from Amazon.