So I’d just like to start by saying THANK YOU for all of your lovely comments on my last post. I swear I wasn’t fishing for compliments (yes I was), but it’s still lovely to hear so many kind words of encouragement and to know so many of you can relate.
Now, onto business. In keeping with my goal of reading 52 books in 2013, I read four books in February. A slight decrease from the 5 I read in January, but in my defense, it was a short month, and two of them were over 500 pages (I know. That SHOULD be illegal). I already reviewed Ham on Rye here, but below are my thoughts on the remaining three.
1. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
No, this is not what happened following Clint Eastwood’s latest speaking engagement… but good guess. It’s actually the title of this lovely little book by Jonas Jonasson:
The 100-Year-Old-Man tells the story of Allan Karlsson, a Swedish octogenarian who, on his 100th birthday, climbs out the window of his nursing home with nothing but a pair of flimsy old slippers and a strong hankering for Vodka, and decides to start over.
You had me at “vodka”.
A series of hilarious and entirely unpredictable adventures ensue involving a stolen suitcase full of cash, an organized crime ring, unlikely friendships, and (what else) an elephant. What makes the plot even more interesting is that throughout the book, we learn that Allan is not your average centenarian. A munitions expert by trade, Alan somehow had a hand in everything from inventing the atomic bomb to saving General Franco’s life. He’s basically like the really old, Swedish Forrest Gump.
This book was silly, ridiculous, and I kind of loved it. I’m not going to say it was perfect- parts of the plot were downright unbelievable, and most of the characters were incredibly unrealistic, but I tried to tell myself this was all just part of its charm.
I think it would make a good Hollywood screwball comedy film, like a Hangover or Bounty Hunter type situation. Preferably one that would involve Gerard Butler wearing no shirt and massacring a Swedish accent.
Plus, it’s nice to see a lighter side to the Swedes after all that Girl With the Dragon Tattoo business.
For that, I give it 3.9 intellectual Dachshunds.
2. I Found This Funny by Judd Apatow
From famed Hollywood writer, producer and director Judd Apatow (Pineapple Express, Girls, The 40-Year-Old- Virgin) comes this collection of his favorite humor pieces: from short stories, to poems, to illustrations; even a failed TV pilot written by Conan O’Brien.
Apatow explains in the prologue that after the commercial flops of his first two TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, he decided to take a year off from writing and just focus on reading.
He started with short stories, because that’s all he had the attention span for, and grew from there.
His career took off exponentially after that, and he attributes a lot of his success in his writing to that year he spent reading. I found that really cool, and something I could sort of relate to given this whole 52 book thing I’m doing.
I should warn you, though, that a fair number of these pieces are not funny at all. He admits this right at the outset – some are sad, poignant, or just plain confusing.. but if you’re open to it, these ones are cool too. The collection includes pieces by such famous writers as David Sedaris, Jonathan Franzen and Dave Eggers, but I think one of my favourites was a story by Paul Feig (co-creator of Freaks and Geeks) about his attempts at announcing his high school football games, despite knowing nothing at all about football.
This is a great coffee table (or, lets be honest, bathroom) book: one that you can pick up every now and again and read a piece from.
I give it: 3.7 intellectual daschunds.
3. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
I was inspired to read this book based on a short story by Franzen in I Found This Funny. More than anything, I was struck by his vocabulary. I had to look up like 8 words in a 12 page story. It was kind of annoying, but I also like a challenge.
The Corrections centers around aging Midwestern couple Edith & Alfred, and their desire to have their three grown children, Gary, Denise & Chip, all home for one last Christmas. Enid is miserable, Alfred’s got Parkinson’s with a side of dementia, and the kids have got a whole host of issues I can’t even begin to describe here. Basically, Gary is a depressed alcoholic, Denise is a Grade A Homewrecker, and Chip is a broke screenwriter who was fired from his teaching job for “sexual harassment”.
Yeah, it’s all VERY uplifting. Did i mention it’s also like, 600 pages?
I really wanted to love this book. It received tons of critical acclaim (you might remember it from the infamous Oprah’s book club fiasco a few years back whereby Franzen basically told Oprah to go eff herself.)
And I did like parts of it. Franzen did a great job of capturing the nuances of family life and sibling relationships. However, it was also very long, slow-paced and emotionally draining.
If you’re into tangible malaise and a bunch of white people talking about their first world problems, then this book might be for you. Otherwise, stick to I Found This Funny.
I give it: 3 Intellectual Dashchunds.