Top positive review
A Great Book
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 22, 2022
I became a fan of Fredrik Backman's over 5 years ago when my wife insisted I read <u>A Man Called Ove</u>. I didn't want to read that book but she insisted and if you want to read how that happened then you'll just have to go read my review of that book. Since Ove Backman has written several other books, all good and some exceptionally so. I think Backman is a master storyteller and I enjoy the way he weaves his plots and his characters. The manner in which he does this weaving reminds me of Charles Dickens and it is a point of criticism for me with Dickens. The difference between these authors, for me, is that Dickens' cleverness isn't revealed until the climax which I find unrealistic while Backman lets the reader in on the connections as though he and the reader were keeping it a secret from the characters. As for this book I am giving it my rare 5 star WOW rating as it is a charming, amusing, dramatic, reverent and irreverent story about, as the author asserts, idiots.
The story is about a poorly planned, in fact not planned at all, bank robbery by a less than professional criminal. Not surprising the robbery goes in an unexpected direction not considered by the robber, again not surprising. The robber's escape attempt leads across the street and into an apartment showing containing about a half dozen people and a real estate agent and a hostage situation results and the story takes flight from there. The humor involved in this story will, of course, depend on the reader's sense of humor. As I was reading this book the story started to remind me of old Woody Allen movies but as it progressed I was more inclined to view it as reminiscent of Peter Sellers' "Pink Panther" movies. However, as I went even further into the story I discovered less humor and more serious subject matter and I started to see the cinematic style of Woody Allen's more recent work. I haven't immediately thought of a book in cinematic terms like this since I read Mark Helprin's <u>Freddy and Fredericka</u> close to 10 years ago (F&F is a great book and if you haven't read it you should. Go find my review). This book would make a wonderful movie or stage play since almost all the activity takes place primarily in two locations. My wife has also read this book and rated it 5 stars so we are probably going to have fun discussing who to cast in this fantasy film of the future.
Whether this book is ever made into a movie or a play is neither here nor there as this review is about the book. It would be completely wrong to think this book is merely an amusing lightweight novel as it is a full demonstration of Backman's ability to entertain his reader while covering serious issues. In fact the author covers so much ground in this 336 page book that I started making a list of the topics he touches on. My list ran to 17 items before it became distracting and interfered with my appreciation of the book so I stopped. The treatment Backman gives the issues he covers is not extensive as that would have required multiple volumes to achieve. What Backman does achieve is to grab the reader's attention and make them stop and think about the subject illustrated. Isn't that enough? If an author can get his reader to stop and think about an important issue hasn't he done more than most?
The author calls his characters idiots but what they really are are normal people and normal people do idiotic things from time to time in their lives. In the course of this story all the characters reveal their stories and in this way the author introduces us to the varieties of life and the issues and facets of human existence and the stupidity one engages in or encounters in the course of living a normal life and attempting to deal with life's issues. This is another of Backman's exceptional stories and well worth reading.