Tag Archives: Humour

RECENT READS: The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson. (translated from Swedish)


 

 

Definitely the jolliest Swedish book I’ve ever read! Somehow Swedish novels – and  I must confess I’ve only read Swedish crime novels – tend to be heavy and dark.

The novel is a surreal comedy, a sort of Charlie Chaplin (i.e. the 100 year old Allan,) on steroids; a tall story, a funny story, and actually a very skilful exposition about the utter futility of politics and war.

There are parallel strands : 100 year old Allan Carlsson – an explosives expert, who really enjoys a drink or two, escapes from the Old Age Home on his 100th birthday. He escapes slowly and ineptly, but en route manages to get tangled up with criminals, has a huge adventure, makes new friends, and gets married for the first time at age 101. The second strand is alternate chapter flashbacks to Allan Carlsson’s remarkable life, which takes the reader through the decades. The mild Allan meets every world leader of note (Stalin, Mao, Harry Truman, to mention a few) and plays a part in world events. Along the way Jonasson points out the weaknesses of all the “isms’” that his hero encounters. Actually, to be accurate, the mild Allan is more of an anti-hero, than a hero. It’s an engaging read, with the daring insertion of a live adult elephant , yes, a real, live elephant, into the Swedish countryside!

The novel was greatly acclaimed; rightly so. It’s fresh and inventive and belongs in the Mann Booker Nomination Lists.

 

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What my Cat is Reading


Chocolat the Literary Critic

Chocolat spends a lot of time studying A Field Guide to Smaller Mammals, Birds & Insects of the Cape Peninsula. Time and again it has provided useful tips and hints for her menus.  You can’t beat a really good recipe book. Every home should have one.

One of her favourite reads is Edward Lear’s famous poem The Owl and the Pussycat.  It combines most of her pleasures : romance and travel. She loves the way that romance develops as the Owl and the Pussycat sail along in their beautiful pea-green boat.  How could anyone resist being wooed with song accompanied by a small guitar?  She likes the fact that there is such inter-species co-operation – the pig willingly selling his ring for one shilling, while the turkey who lived on the hill conducted a brief, but moving wedding ceremony.  And then the wedding feast: mince for the Pussycat and slices of quince for the Owl followed by sedate dancing on the beach beneath the light of the moon. Altogether an enchanting poem.

The same cannot be said for the infantile poem The Cat in the Hat  by Dr Seuss. Chocolat does not know what sort of a Doctor Seuss might have been, but it certainly wasn’t anything to do with elegant verse or beautiful illustrations.  She finds the sledge-hammer rhyming pattern quite distressing and as for the grotesque cartoon illustrations! Well – the less said the better.

She fancies she may tackle the old Roman poet Catullus next. Poems with titles such as Tears for Lesbia’s Sparrow  and  The Death of  Lesbia’s Sparrow sound very promising.

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