Prather’s Pick: A future classic
This week’s novel is an absolute delight. “A Man Called Ove” was written by Fredrik Blackman in 2014. He is also the author of “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,” an equally charming novel.
This week’s novel has everything. It has a well-written plot, it is heartwarming and yet humorous, and the characters are lovable, especially the lead character. Ove is a 59-year-old man who drives a Saab and lives in a residential area. He was once chairman of the Residents’ Association. Ove is a grumpy man who follows a rigid daily schedule and lives by his strict principles. No matter whether he’s inside or outside, Ove always closes doors and then tugs the door handle three times. Underneath his grumpy appearance, however, he has a great big heart — not that he shows it.
Although he is no longer chairman of the Residents’ Association, Ove still keeps up a daily inspection of the residential area, making sure that the rules are followed. He checks the parking lot and writes down vehicle information about those that are parked there longer than the allotted 24 hours. He lets drivers know that they cannot drive in the housing area.
Ove checks the trash room and makes sure that household trash is separated into the proper containers. If it isn’t, Ove separates it. If a bicycle is left propped up against the door of the bicycle shed, he puts it inside. He even takes down signs that are posted on walls.
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Ove was married to Sonja, who he probably drove crazy with his crazy rules, like keeping the radiator turned down even when the weather was cold and then checking continually to make sure she didn’t secretly turn it up. Now Sonja has died, although the reader doesn’t find that out right away.
For six months after she died, Ove kept working — until recently, when the manager called him in. They forced Ove to take early retirement. Now Ove wants to die so he can be with Sonja. First he decides to hang himself. He carefully plans how to install a hook in the ceiling, doing it in the daytime to save electricity. He has already paid the undertaker, written a letter of instructions, called the lawyers, and made arrangements to be buried next to Sonja. He cancelled his newspaper subscription and even washed his coffee cup.
However, the hanging doesn’t work because the hook comes out of the ceiling. Neither do other plans to kill himself, mainly because he’s constantly being disturbed. For example, a young couple with two children moves in next door. The father, known as The Lanky One, doesn’t know how to back up the U-Haul trailer so he scrapes it up against the exterior wall of Ove’s house, smashes his mailbox, and runs over a flower bed. The mother, Parvaneh, is pregnant. Eventually they become an important part of Ove’s life.
There are other characters, too, such as neighbors Rune and Anita and a journalist who comes to the area to do a story about Ove. And then there’s the cat that annoys Ove at first but comes to live with him.
I think this book is so good that it might become a classic. Published by Washington Square Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., the softcover book sells for about $16.00. This book was recommended by my sister Darlene Blackford who got the book from her friend Shelby.
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