Tag Archives: 1900-1909

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson/Translator: Rod Bradburythe-100-year-old-man-who-climbed-out-the-window-and-disappeared

My rating: 4 of 5

On his one-hundredth birthday, Allan Karlsson finds himself in a nursing home with a big party planned in his honor. If only they had deigned to ask what he wanted! Allan would much rather have a bottle of vodka to enjoy–something that is, in fact, forbidden in the home. In that case, it’s time to stop sitting around. Allan climbs out the window of his room and embarks on quite the adventure, one including murder and elephants and, of course, vodka. Not that it will be the first adventure of his long life.

I first discovered The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared through a review by Paul@The Galaxial Word (which you should check out; it’s excellent). It seems that this is a book which inspires rather polarized opinions in either direction. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I think you have to come at it with the right expectations. Because this book is, essentially, an extended tall tale, a larger than life story that’s meant to be fun and funny but that can’t be taken too seriously. The humor is rather dark, I must warn; there’s some violence (actually, quite a bit) scattered throughout the story as well. I found that, while I didn’t exactly like the characters, they were interesting and they all contributed to the story. As for the plot, it’s a fascinating blend. Half of the time, you get a present-day romp through contemporary Sweden with this old man and the people he picks up along the way sending the police and the papers on a merry chase. The other half, scattered between the present-day chapters, is a historical progression through Karlsson’s long and storied life. It shows his intimate involvement–brought about by his coincidental presence in most circumstances–in numerous high-profile situations throughout the years. Obviously, such involvement is highly improbable and historically unlikely (a common complaint that I’ve heard). Duh. It’s a tall tale; it’s meant to be improbable and unlikely. I did enjoy the close-up walkthrough of those historical events though. I guess what I’m getting at is that, while it’s not for everyone, I personally found The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared to be enjoyable, and I’m planning to check out others of the author’s books (which all seem to be just as ridiculously titled!).

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The Hippopotamus Pool

Author: Elizabeth Peters

Amelia Peabody, volume 8

While not including any of her beloved pyramids, Amelia Peabody’s work this season does promise to be most interesting. Emerson claims to know the location of an untouched tomb–one of a queen, no less! A find like that is bound to be fascinating for a team of archaeologists like themselves . . . but it’s likely to be equally interesting to other, less savory elements: crime lords, tomb robbers, the press. Still, if anyone can bring these historical treasures safely to light, it’ll be Amelia and her family.

I can’t think of one of Amelia’s adventure that I haven’t enjoyed, but I think The Hippopotamus Pool is particularly appealing. While there is a certain element of danger and crime, it doesn’t dominate the story to the extent that it sometimes does (Amelia and Emerson being highly prone to attract the shadier sides of Egypt). Thus, the story is more able to focus on archaeology itself, as well as on the family relations of the Emerson family and the societal issues present in their day. In this volume, Ramses and Nefret are just getting into their early teens–which makes for all kinds of interestingness, particularly since Ramses is totally in love with Nefret but she’s not willing to acknowledge him yet. And of course, this is the volume that introduces David, the third member of my favorite threesome in Amelia’s stories and an all-around great guy. I think The Hippopotamus Pool has wide appeal–adventure, suspense, family, social and cultural complexities, history, and archaeology to name a few–and I would definitely recommend it.

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