The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared: Jonas Jonasson

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How can you not pick up a book with such a delightful title? I was sure that the book would be entertaining, at least in parts, and I was definitely not disappointed.

Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of his room in his retirement home, on the eve of his hundredth birthday party. He goes to a bus station, intending to travel as far as the money in his pocket will allow. At the bus station, he ends up carrying off a suitcase belonging to a member of a drug dealing biker gang, and ends up having the police, the criminals and a bunch of others on his tail.

The story goes back and forth between Allan’s escapades in the present day, and the adventures he has been up to in his hundred years of life, and I don’t know which is more entertaining. Because of his knowledge about blowing up things, Allan meets a succession of international leaders, from Harry Truman to Stalin to Mao Zedong. In the present day, he gathers travel companions as he goes from one place to another, all of who join for the briefcase contents, but stay for something more.

Comic novels are difficult to write, and Jonasson does an admirable job maintaining the tempo and the suspension of disbelief throughout. With quirky characters and even quirkier antics, the book reads like a breeze.

Me Talk Pretty One Day: David Sedaris

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A friend recently asked me my opinion on David Sedaris. Now, I love offering opinions, and I was in an awkward position to offer an opinion on something I had no opinion about, having not read anything by him, so I set about rectifying the situation.

Sedaris’ book is a collection of essays in two parts. Part one deals with his life in America, with his childhood and family in North Carolina and his years doing odd jobs in New York. Part two is about his years in France, getting used to the French language and milieu and trying not to stick out as a sore thumb.

Sedaris’ writing is sharp and his observations relatable. It’s like reading a standup comic’s show, and sometimes I suspect a lot of standup comics may have been ‘inspired’ by Sedaris’ work. I found the part on France funnier, probably because Sedaris is like a fish out of water amidst the French language and habits. Sedaris draws upon everyday occurrences and common tropes, but his descriptive ability and imaginative visualizations add a different dimension to the instances he describes. It’s a nice breezy read,