“Ove glares out the window. The poser is jogging. Not that Ove is provoked by jogging. Not at all. Ove couldn’t give a damn about people jogging. What he can’t understand is why they have to make such a big thing of it. With those smug smiles on their faces, as if they were out there curing pulmonary ephysema. Either they walk fast or they run slowly, that’s what joggers do. It’s a forty-year-old man’s way of telling the world he can’t do anything right.”
Ove’s riffs on everything from his neighbors to joggers to his local housing association and beyond are what make the book sparkle. I don’t recall a book with which I have chuckled so often.
Ove doesn’t use people’s names. He doesn’t care about people. There is “The Blond Weed” who totters “around the streets like a panda on heels as long as box wrenches, with clown paint all over her face and sunglasses so big that one can’t tell whether they’re a pair of glasses or some kind of helmet.”
Ove doesn’t like the Blond Weed. The Blond Weed doesn’t like Ove.
Ove also has new neighbors! He calls them the Lanky One and the Pregnant Foreign Woman. The Lanky One drives over his mailbox with his moving trailer. Ove doesn’t like the Lanky One or the Pregnant Foreign Woman.
Ove is obsessed with putting a hook into the middle of the ceiling in his living room. He plans carefully choosing just the right anchor bolt so that the hook will hold. It isn’t too long before we discover the reason he needs the hook so badly, but that is one of the spoilers of the book.
Suffice to say that in the space of a few pages, Mr. Backman has switched things all around on us. A Man Called Ove is not solely a funny book about a curmudgeon. And he has managed to hook us on this delightful, funny, happy, sad, amazing book.