A Man Called Ove: Some Thoughts

I was a little unsure about reading this book, though I’m not sure why because I had mostly heard good things. The other day I was contemplating checking it out from the library and had it sitting next to me at the circulation desk, when a patron came up and in the middle of asking a legit question, interrupted herself to ask if I was reading A Man Called Ove, and I told her I was thinking I should try it. She was very excited having just recently read it herself (I can relate to such excitement) and she wouldn’t tell me much about it besides whispering “He’s a grumpy fuck.” This was the best book review I had heard in awhile, so I figured why not!

Is it weird that my almost 25 year-old female self can relate to a grumpy old man? Because I totally can. I feel like I’ve got the grumpy old person thing pretty much down most days. Writing notes to people to tell them they are a “useless bloody imbecile who couldn’t even read signs?” Love it. I wish I were that cool.

“He’d been a grumpy old man since he started elementary school”

What can I say about Ove.. He is a grumpy, sarcastic, stickler of a man. He likes rule,  principles, Saab automobiles, and doesn’t have time for your stupidity. Ove regularly refers to people simply by descriptors as opposed to names (ie. The Pregnant One, The Lanky One, The Blonde Weed, Cat Annoyance) some of which are pretty humorous. As Ove begins to connect with said people though, they begin to be referred to by their actual names as opposed to Ove’s observational names, something I must assume is intentional on Backman’s part.

I’m a fan of good use of flashback chapters as a means of explaining a characters back story and circumstance; A Man Called Ove is no exception, Backman does a nice job of letting the reader into who Ove really is. We see his true character as that of more than just a grumpy old curmudgeon, he has a big heart and cares about doing what is right. I also enjoyed how Ove’s character develops throughout the story, especially the latter part of book. (Lack of character development is one of my biggest pet peeves.) We see a man who is seemingly alone and shut off become more engaging (at times begrudgingly) with his neighbors and become invested in doing the things he knows to be right.

Though I am hardly qualified to really evaluate language and writing style, I enjoyed such about A Man Called Ove. The wit and sass were not lost in translation. There were some lovely quotable moments, for instance: “He skeptically peruses this grammatically challenged little natural disaster” when referring to Nasanin (the three-year-old) who then and there became my favorite character. There was also a fun use of vulgar words. I love a good swear word used well!

On more than one occasion Ove’s character reminded me a a few other somewhat social inept characters I enjoy. Which then to the realization that apparently I enjoy grumpy, sarcastic, anti-social characters (shocker).  Some such characters include Don Tillman (of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project) and Martin Clunes’ character Dr. Martin Ellingham (of Doc Martin). If you aren’t familiar with either of these characters, but were a fan of Ove, I highly recommend checking them out 😉





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