Thursday, January 25, 2018

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman

Ove looked at his calendar. It was the last Thursday. Any fool could see that. The meetings always occurred on the last Thursday of the month at 7 pm. Mountain Time. That's the way it had always been for 25 bloody years and that's the way it should be. Even a January had a last Thursday. Even the suits knew that, damn it. Ove looked over his crowded bookshelves. He chose a book to take to the meeting for the yearly book exchange. Some of those suits will probably try to pass off a book about benders. The exchange was supposed to be in December, damn it, and here it was January. What is wrong with these people? Rune and Genoni will not be at the meeting. Neither will Sonja but she was never allowed to attend the meeting. And no Cat Annoyance. And now they want pictures. Of when Ove was a cute little boy. He was never a cute little boy; they'll be lucky to get any pictures. Certainly not in color.  And no one drove a SAAB so why listen to their comments?

Ron B:  I give the book a solid A; the author's/narrator's similes were inventive.  The book had a good storyline.  I would recommend the book to anyone, and I think almost anyone would enjoy it at some level.

Keith G:  The book was written in medias res - from the inside out.  However, after reading it a bit I decided I shouldn't worry about timelines.  I thought 5 to 6 suicide attempts were too much.  Ove was an excellent curmudgeon and should be an honorary member of the Book Club.  He personifies a piece of each of us, and he died a compassionate man.  I feel I knew him.  Solid A

Charlie:  I thought the characters were one-dimensional, cardboard figures.  Also, Ove's neighbors kept coming over, and I would think that they hated him.  I give it a B+

Mike:  The story of a curmudgeon being won over by a child's love is not a new concept - recall the NBC broadcast of Heidi and her isolated grandfather.  But Backman has accomplished several unique approaches in his story.  One is the narrator - is it Sonja?  is it Ove's alter ego?  Is it Parnaveh?  the narration is clever, incorporating much of the humor of the book through the outlandish metaphors and the 'thinking of the Cat Annoyance.'  Ove may be overdrawn, almost autistic, and his friends and neighbors are certainly over Pollyanna-ish - but it works.  A-

Ken:  I recall taking my eldest daughter out for driving lessons, much like Parnaveh.  She had taken the McGinnis Training but they had neglected left turns - probably because they are more accident prone.
Overall, I felt the book was worthwhile but a bit depressing - how many times can a suicide attempt be thwarted?  A

Bob W:  Pretend I'm not here, as I read the wrong book:  All Quiet on the Western Front.

Jack:  I loved this book.  Provided insight to me on me.  I found this guy reflected universal views.  Excellent job with the narrator.  I thought the book invoked leitmotiv with the hands in the pockets.  I liked the language, easy to follow.  The development of Ove brought me to tears by the end of the book.  A

Dick Arms:  I found the book delightful - one of the best we've read.  I liked the fact that each chapter revealed more and more.  Each chapter ended with something about the guy.  Good literature is about change - how the characters change during the telling of the story.  Throughout the whole book, I found myself saying, "Gosh.  I wish I had the ability to write like this."  Solid A

Rob E:  I liked it a lot -but some of it made me uncomfortable, such as the wife dies and the suicide attempts.  Parts were excellent.  A-

Bob S:  Grade:  A      Three or four things impressed me:  the sequential disclosure of facts about Ove and Sonja; the 300 people who showed up at her funeral.  The curmudgeon part was just a foil for three other plots:  his relationship with Sonja; his growth as a character.  Like a Thomas Hardy plot where everything jells at the end.  Plus the narrator was excellent.  This book ranks up there with the other great books that Prof Jensen has chosen:  Cry the Beloved Country and How Green Was My Valley.

Dick J:  I liked Jack's comment about emotion.  The movie I got me all choked up when he died at the end and hundreds showed up.  Most towns have a curmudgeon where everyone says, "Hey, that's the way he is.  Leave him alone."  A

Monday, January 15, 2018

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Year

2018 turns over a huge boulder, a severe milestone in the Last Thursday Book Club:  25 years of reading, carping, chortling, grading, peregrinating, and gourmandizement.  Not necessarily in that ... well, yes, that was pretty much it.  

Before LTBC, we were but a bunch of illiterate, half-baked, mush-for-brains, mealy-mouthed adolescents, as will be shown in numerous authentic and historic photos.  

No fake news here, these are all legitimate photos, and worthy of blackmail, or at least thinly veiled threats.  During this time we have presented worthy awards to questionably-worthy readers:

We have read some of the finest books ever captured on paper or monitor.

... yet we have emerged unscathed.  Maybe just a bit scathed.  Well, a few of us have vowed never to read again, but ... enough about the past, what about the present?  What about the future?  They say the World may end not with a bang, but with the push of one (very small) nuclear button on a desk.  Do we look scared?

We have miles to go before we sleep.  And in recognition of this historic milestone, we will be publishing our Silver Anniversary Edition of Fair Condition, Some Pages Missing (ISBN 978097227044-1) (Library of Congress Control Number:  2018905878).  

Orders are flying in, to include:
  •  Ganong:  3
  •  Gilbert:  2  ($15 cash received, 28 June 2018)
  •  Palmer:  2
  •  Jensen:  3
  •  Ferrell:  2
  •  Blackledge:  4