FROM THE NOT QUITE SUBLIME TO THE INTENTIONALLY RIDICULOUS

One of the things that could prove to be fascinating, as we unpack the two books we chose for discussion this winter, is what a comparison of the two might yield. Moving from one to the other allows all kinds of things to surface.

As I read The End of Your Life Book Club,  (see A GOOD BEGINNING BOOK FOR A BEGINNING BOOK CLUB) I was often bothered by the fact that Will Schwalbe was at times too earnest, while simultaneously holding back those thoughts and feelings that would have made for more affecting and honest writing. I sensed his inner calculations, his self-editing and his emotional squeamishness.

nr_aug27_2Well! In The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, no one will accuse Jonas Jonasson of self-restraint!

The novel is quite long! I marveled at centenarian Allan Karlsson’s stamina!

The novel is quite silly! In many ways, Karlsson is Forrest Gump without the encumbrance of a conscience.

The novel has been showered with epithets! Searching online for descriptions of the book, I have encountered the words: satire, lampoon, parody, spoof, romp, funny, silly, mordant, historical, over-the-top and kind-hearted.

Mark Twain in Middle Life - ID: 100708 - NYPL Digital Gallery To this mix, I would add that it is also devilishly unkind, and both indulgent and self-indulgent. I would love to have Mark Twain review it, just to set some limits.

And finally, I believe our protagonist, Allan Karlsson to be a picaresque character.image001

The direct tone of the writing invites an equal bluntness among the novel’s readers and critics, I think.

I enjoyed the book but found it flawed. It was funny, but in a monotone sort of way. A novella-size joke stretched out to a longish novel. All of Jonasson’s characters are written in the same flat voice, and this made them almost interchangeable.

Oh dear! I seem to have gone beyond the scope of this first pass over the novel.

Hopefully, I have stirred some of you up a little, and you will soon comment to set me straight. Please do!

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