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Words of a Bibliophile

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." —Bee Gees


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

This is a nice story, but there are quite a few things I didn't like about it. The first is Ove himself. I would have liked him better if he just lives his own life based on his strict principles, but by his involvement in the Residents' Association he seems to want to regulate how other people in the neighborhood should live as well. I was expecting him to be a real hermit, grumpy and sticking to his individual way, but he turns out to be a person who tries to push his own way of life onto others. Though I did understand that part of it is his way of fighting back against the white-shirted authorities.

The second is the writing in the chapters set in the present. Maybe it's the translation or maybe it's a Swedish thing derived from the original, because I felt something similar when I read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. The present chapters are written like it's made to be a comedy movie, but since this is a novel there's a lot of extra words thrown in. I especially noticed too many similes for comedic effect, something like "they stare at each other as if they were two cowboys in a western" or "Ove looks at him as if he was a Nigerian prince wanting to offer him a lucrative business opportunity." It gets a bit much when yet another simile appears every other paragraph or so, like the author is trying to convince me that this is supposed to be funny. The parts about Ove's past are written better though. I also liked them because Ove was a simpler man back then (not as judgmental/controlling of other people's lives), and his love story with Sonja was endearing.

I did like the ending, which I thought was uplifting in my interpretation of it. I think I might have liked this better as a movie.