The Hundred Year Old Man

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The hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, is quite a title and quite a book.

A delightful concept that the hero should live through a century’s worth of major events and just happen to be involved in most of them. Many I had forgotten and found myself exclaiming out loud, oh ye-es, rather like a mini revision programme for a history test.

The hero Allan Karlsson’s  wry comment when events end in disaster, ‘things are as they are and what will be will be,’  is reminiscent of but less optimistic than Candide’s ‘all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.’  It is laugh out loud funny in places and certain lines deserve to pass into general usage: ‘Nothing lasts forever, except perhaps general stupidity.’

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I suppose it challenges concepts of age, state intervention and the loss of rights.  The old man waiting for his hundredth birthday party does a bunk from the home he lives in, steps out of his (luckily) ground floor bedroom window and escapes the dragon who runs the home, Director Alice, having fallen foul of her in the first fifteen minutes of meeting her.

‘He was welcomed by Director Alice, who smiled a friendly smile, but who also sucked the joy out of Allan’s life in laying out for him all the rules of the home.’

Allan’s picaresque, improbable journey through the past century and on his last adventure is a good read. There were a few moments when the translation seemed problematic, but could have been simply style.

 

 

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