There is something about popular things. You just jump into the wagon because everyone else seems to have enjoyed it. The engine pulls the wagon and the journey begins. After 5-10 minutes itself you start realising 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 eventually make it to the last station. Something similar is my experience of reading 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 anymore and decides to take his life. But life has other plans. Every time 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 neighbor 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 for 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 is being treated as a Hero of the neighborhood, to the point of appearing on the local newspaper too. It’s a relief that the book has ended!
Why I absolutely did not like the book is because first of all there is no depth in 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 neighbors 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.