I haven't added any books to my "All time favorite" shelf for a while, but Ove definitely belongs up there with Mr. Penumbra and the old man who jumpeI haven't added any books to my "All time favorite" shelf for a while, but Ove definitely belongs up there with Mr. Penumbra and the old man who jumped out of a window. As someone who was not an English or literature major, it took me decades of reading and thousands of books to realize that my 5-star books usually have one or few the following items: interesting characters, an author with "heart" and/or beautiful prose. So, whether if the characters are relatable or lovable, whether if the plot is logical, or the recent favorite: whether if the narrator is unreliable, are just not the most important criteria in my scale.
With phrases like this one, my favorite, by the way (laughed hysterically at midnight and woke up the house), "Like a bolt of lightning up your urethra.", Mr. Backman did not make the fine prose society, but he's definitely a writer who truly, deeply understands human feelings and he has an amazing talent of making unique characters. One thing that amazes me is how young he is. How possibly someone so young understands the sadness and anger of Ove and Britt Marie?
"Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.
"We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding onto the word like "IF."
Back to Ove. One of my favorite Japanese manga series was Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking Volume 1. It's a series about a pessimistic high school teacher that always fails at his suicidal attempts. The series explores and scrutinizes the various cultural and sociological aspects of the Japanese society in a satirical way. Ove reminds me of Sensei Zetsubou. After his wife Sonja died, Ove gave up living. This world is a place that he never cares for, anyway, people were not raised the same way as it used to be.
“Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.”
“He can’t understand people who long to retire. How can anyone spend their whole life longing for the day when they become superfluous? Wandering about, a burden on society, what sort of man would ever wish for that? Staying at home, waiting to die. Or even worse: waiting for them to come and fetch you and put you in a home. Being dependent on other people to get to the toilet. Ove can’t think of anything worse. His wife often teases him, says he’s the only man she knows who’d rather be laid out in a coffin than travel in a mobility service van.”
"The two men have tattoos all over their throats, he notes. As if the SUV is not a clear enough advertisement for their stupidity."
“all over her face and sunglasses so big that one can’t tell whether they’re a pair of glasses or some kind of helmet.”
So Ove wanted to end his life and be with the only person that could understand him, but life was not done with him yet. To see all the surprises that life has in store for Ove, you'll have to read the book yourself...and love is love is love. At the time of writing this review, our world definitely needs more love....more
Just realized that I called this my "read of the year" in one of my updates. Since such an overly hyped book usually gets its share of negative reviewJust realized that I called this my "read of the year" in one of my updates. Since such an overly hyped book usually gets its share of negative review. I feel that I'll better write one to explain why I gave it 5 stars.
So, full review to follow when I get to my laptop. I wrote the review for Modern Lover on my phone, and it wasn't a great experience....more
A collection of 4 essays Oliver Sacks wrote for The New York Times at the time, before and after he was diagnosed with cancer. I've read the individuaA collection of 4 essays Oliver Sacks wrote for The New York Times at the time, before and after he was diagnosed with cancer. I've read the individual essays when they were published, but I'm grateful that I can re-read them again in this book. If there's one person who can convey us how beautiful life is, and how not to fear death...Mr. Sacks is the person. All essays are beautifully written and poignant, and worth reading over and over. By the way, I'm Xenon....more
Since I have never read any of his other works, I did not know what to expect...so this book was a genuine surprise, a big one. This guy is great withSince I have never read any of his other works, I did not know what to expect...so this book was a genuine surprise, a big one. This guy is great with words...in fact, he enjoyed himself so much that sometimes he got carried away with the writing, yet he seemed to enjoy his own wits and words tremendously. Not sure if I loved the fantasy subplot, but the characters, the writing, his knowledge of human nature, literature and the world, his humor, the globe trotting, his way with words and sentences, the introspection that this book elicited in me - all worth a solid 5....more
This could easily be a 5 star book. The reason for the 4 star was that, even though AJ loved short stories and found them harder to master, the lengthThis could easily be a 5 star book. The reason for the 4 star was that, even though AJ loved short stories and found them harder to master, the length of this novel is embarrassingly in between - too short for the reader to fully fall in love and feel comfortable with each and all characters, yet a bit too long than a short, precise story. Words and phrases also need more polishing. However, it's still an amazing story for book and bookstore lovers.
P.S. Do read the acknowledgements. She gave away some secrets of growing a writer. ;)...more