Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.
In a blending of Forest Gump meets Baron Munchausen meets Lao Tzu, mild mannered and apolitical Allan Karlsson manages to have an impact on his times, even if no one knows his name. Whether having exceptionally bad luck and hardship, or experiencing the most providential escapes, through it all he accepts whatever comes his way because, as his father pointed out, "whatever will be will be." Fatalistic acceptance forms the core of his character as he goes from one adventure to the next through a very long and very eventful life. Loads of fun.
A fun read, a light read.
And at times funny enough to debilitate me with laughing. This book is essentially a globe trotting, Swedish, highly intelligent Forrest Gump. Numerous events in the man's past and present life are a series of inexplicable events of luck and randomness.
Not much more to say, if that is up your alley, get this book.
I agree with many others who say that the story idea is a cute idea and at times it is funny and totally unbelievable. I love history but his version put me to sleep! The story of the main character running away from a retirement home is very believable but the series of events are just so far out there that it make the story boring. There was some entertainment value but not much.
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
By that I mean the positive attitude and it was absolutely entertaining.
I was looking for something a little less dark and depressing. It seems most mystery writers right now are a writing from bleakness. Even with tragedy every day life if rarely so black.
This was refreshing, funny, historical, a little bit of an intelligent Forest Gump. If you like history and being reminded life doesn't have to suck all the time, give it a shot. In my humble opinion worth the price of admission.
i like to read. i like to listen.
loved this story. laughed out loud so much while listening to it. it's one of those madcap stories with a zany mix of characters who bring absolute perfection to their specific roles in the story.
i love the hundred-year-old man...and i love his story. finding out his past, and how he rubbed elbows with presidents and world leaders just made it even more humorous.
the narrator was perfect -- a dry english gentleman's voice telling this silly little story.
this is the kind of book that your read to put a smile on your face, and don't want to take it too seriously.
I was looking for something lighter as a counter-point to some of the books I had just finished and stumbled upon this delightful story. I was uncertain about it but thought that I did not have much to lose since it was a Daily Deal and seemed like just the thing to lighten my mood.
To my utter surprise it was a delightful choice. Allan Karlsson is a quirky guy who is just not ready to be finished with life at 100 and misses his vodka. His adventure involving thieves, police, friends and the high and mighty is something not to be missed. I found myself laughing, chuckling and smiling throughout the entire book and especially during the windup as the protagonists are telling their tale to the Prosecuting Attorney.
This was the most delightful book I have read since A Dirty Job and Gods Behaving Badly and I recommend it highly to those with a taste for the light and quirky. The narration is excellent, the story is delightful and the experience is well worth the time spent in listening.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
This book is so much like Forrest Gump, that I can title my review and answer this question by referring to one of the best-known lines from Gump. If life is a box of chocolates to Allan Karlsson, this book's Forrest, it is unfortunately empty at its core. Or more precisely, he (Allan) is empty at his core. His adventures, past and present, are built as much on improbable coincidence as Forrest's, but he doesn't bring anything to them other than his unquenchable thirst for vodka.
Forrest, admittedly not the brightest shrimp in the Gulf, at least has a heart and is capable of learning important lessons along the way, lessons that progressively hurtle him forward in his story. Allan doesn't learn anything, doesn't want to learn anything, doesn't get anywhere in his 100 years of life, despite his encounters with Stalin, Churchill, Mao, Truman, LBJ, Nixon, DeGaulle, Kim Il-Sung, the Manhattan Project, and Albert Einstein's Dumber Brother. Indeed, the story ends with Allan cheerily agreeing to reprise his biggest mistake in life for the third time.
With everything else in this book bordering on the wonderful, the change it so desperately needs is for Allan, the main character, to have character, to have something beneath his shell, anything, good or evil or ambivalent. It's really hard to have a main character who is completely undeveloped as a character, whose sole motivation is to locate his next bottle. I'm guessing that's the point -- that Allan is a blank canvas, a mirror that reflects only what you want to see. But the story suffers as a result, needlessly, as demonstrated by Forrest Gump, a protagonist every bit as much of a mirror, but with character, heart, and development.
Despite all that, I would recommend this book to friends and let them draw their own conclusions. Clearly, this book is popular and mine is a minority opinion. Even with my major personal caveat, there is much to enjoy about it -- the humor, obviously, and the lesson in 20th century world history that takes Americans to countries and into events that are well beyond the scope of the American History we are normally exposed to, as in Forrest Gump.
I almost always answer this question by choosing the protagonist, especially one as central to the story as Allan. But that is out of the question here. Allan is completely blank. By contrast, almost all of the minor characters are interesting -- from the present day part of the story, I really like the way Crossley performs The Beauty, and from the past, the bombastic world leaders are fun to listen to, especially Stalin, Truman, LBJ and DeGaulle.
A Swedish adaptation has already been made. I will see it when it reaches America. Perhaps the filmmaker and lead actor will bring more life to Allan than the author.
One last note: The book is structured so that most of the first half is in the present and most of the second half is in the pages of history. There is reason to like both threads of the story, but since I personally enjoyed the history more than the pedestrian present-day plot, I found myself liking it more as the story progressed, though my frustration with Allan as a character grew as we stepped back into history.
Sure, I would. It was a blast, and the reader did a fine job (especially pronouncing all of those Swedish/foreign names that I would have struggled with).
It reminded me of Forrest Gump (the movie, I haven't read the book) and I'm sure comparisons have already been made, but it also had the humor (sometimes dark humor) of light Monty Python. I'm not sure if I can think of anything that would serve as a direct comparison.
Allan, the main character.
Moved me to roll on the floor laughing out loud? Sure. Allan's first meeting with Stalin, his escape from prison in Tehran, when Mr. Dollars tried to land the plane in Bali. Too many to mention
New to audible but love the convenience of listening to books while doing mundane household tasks. Mother of 3 whose nest is 2/3 empty as the grown children move on to bigger and better things.
There was some interesting parts of this book but I found it went on a bit too long and I lost interest. I loved the main character and his spirit as well as his interesting past but that is where my love for the book ends.
I guess I might try one more to be fair before I rule it out entirely.
I actually think my favorite scene was the very first one where he slipped out to avoid his 100th birthday party that he did not want. It pleased me when the nasty nurse couldn't find him.
I always like learning about real historical events through a novel like this so I did like all of the stories about his past.
Although this book wasn't my favorite read, there were people in my Book Club who thought it was one of the best books they've read so give it a try.
Lost for English Words
A quirky, good-humored, informative romp through some of the main events of 20th Century history following the steps of a spry, philosophical 100-year-old retiree who invariably manages to land on his feet, no matter how tight the spot. One of the most charming books I have ever come across! The narration by Steven Crossley was an added enhancement. I loved it!