Archive for September, 2017

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

Do you know what a shaggy dog story is? Well, this book is the next thing to it, though definitely more entertaining. It is the story of Allan Karlsson who, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, climbs out of the window of the retirement home where he has come to live and sets off on an ad hoc adventure. Perhaps, though, Mr. Karlsson would not consider it as so much an adventure as just a continuation of his normal life.

Interspersed with the continuing tale of his current adventure, Alan’s past is revealed as both extraordinary and yet, to him, as routine. Our perspective and his definitely seem at odds. The author has fun weaving the details of his main character’s life in and out of the story, and in and out of real history. Every fantastic event in Karlsson’s life seems to come together as a natural consequence of previous events.

The story is an improbable jumble of people and events and quirky turns. To me, like a shaggy dog story, it got a bit long, but in the end it was a fun book that kept you guessing about how it would end, even though you knew it had to end in the same way that so many of the main character’s past situations resolved themselves.

Don’t think you can’t have an adventure after you turn 100. You just need to have the right people, and fate, on your side.

Finished 9/21/17

Mr. Chartwell: A Novel – Rebecca Hunt

Depression is handled, or not handled, differently by different people. In this novel, the author personifies depression in the form of a very large black dog, named Mr. Chartwell, familiarly known as Black Pat. This dog, through apparently no will of his own, has come to one of the main characters, Esther Hammerhans, after the suicide death of her husband. Through a series of events, Esther comes to do some work for Winston Churchill, who is about to retire from public life, and we find that he, too, is intimately familiar with Black Pat.

The book is a novel way to look at depression and it is thought provoking. Little ins-and-outs let you see how Mr. Chartwell has been a presence in the lives of the characters of the book even before they had known him. In the end, we find that our heroine manages to find a way to eschew the black dog’s company, while Churchill seems to have found a way to live with him, without entirely submitting to his persistent presence.

Finished 9/8/17