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
Perhaps I'm not politically savvy enough, but this book's apparent aim at a cross between a crime novel/comedy/political satire left me shaking my head at the beginning, numbly bored by the middle, and with regret having me make a decision I despair to do ... quitting! I had to stop the read shortly after mid-way realizing that it was unlikely to get any better, and that my reading time would be better spent on a more engaging tale.
no...in fact, I'm honestly not sure what the genre was!?
The performance was fine - it was solely the content that lost my interest.
Boredom, and so disappointment. The title sounded so whimsical and entertaining...
I can't recommend this book - sorry :(
I forced myself to listen to half the book, but had to abandon it. It started out cute and interesting enough, but the turns the story took were just too weird and couldn't keep my attention. I can't recomment this one.
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!
It's the first so It's at the very top!
Sonjia the elephant's debut in the book..
No but I enjoyed this one.
Would have been better if it had been funny after the first hour....
Something by Janet Evanovich, Beverly Lewis, or James Patterson
Don't really know. I was so disinterested, I quit listening after about 3 hours.
Boring. Not funny after initial escape.
I am a retired Histology Technician. My time is spent caring for my grandchildren, my dog, cat, and blue & gold macaw.
It is seldom you find a book that keeps a quick, thrilling and interesting pace from beginning to end. It is less than seldom that you find one which manages to do these things while keeping a smile on your face. " The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared " accomplishes this. It is to our benefit that Jonas Jonasson's book was translated and offered to us as an Audible read. This biography/world political history/spy/ great heist/murder/animal lover and human lovers tale is one you will not be able to easily turn from. The story begins just as the title states, as the 100 year old man steps out of a window and into the flowerbed edging of the home he has only that day entered. Thus he begins an odyssey beyond his wildest imaginings. You will meet mobsters, world leaders, spies, small time thugs, friends, enemies and even an elephant. With the exception of the elephant, of course, they are all in possession of different degrees of intelligence and world views. They all posses a human heart full to overflowing with man's virtues and vices. This journey is well worth taking as there is adventure, mystery, avarice, loyalty, hate, love and laughter, much laughter, on each page. Join in each step the 100 year old man takes, you will be happy you did so.
This is an absolutely delightful comedy following the adventures of an unassuming Swedish man through 100 years of modern history. Like Forrest Gump, he has been everywhere, met everyone, and changed the course of human history a half dozen times. Unlike Forrest, he is clever, which more than makes up for the unexpected stupidity of Einstein's younger brother, Herbert, with whom he pals around for a couple decades. It's beautifully written, perfectly performed, and endlessly pleasurable.