June 18, 2017
Just Finished: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman
This is a story about a grief-stricken, unapologetic curmudgeon and the community that embraces him anyway. Based on the runaway rave reviews it has received, I thought I’d like it more than I did—it felt a bit wordy and cliché at first—but I did end up settling into what has been described as its charm, and will definitely seek another title from this author.
I’m a fan of calling shit shit and not painting a rosy picture of everything; I find the societal tyranny of positivity exhausting and inauthentic. And I think we’re all wired a certain way and essentially should be true to ourselves. On the flip side, I don’t think people get a free pass on making everyone around them miserable, even under the guise of “but he’s really got a big heart,” as with Ove.
Everyone’s got some sort of shit. Everyone carries pain. There’s real value in acknowledging and sharing it, but a lifestyle of being petty and cross in everyday minutia is ultimately just self-indulgent and rude. At some point, there is a personal responsibility to figure out ways to deal, or get some therapy.
Ove found true love with his devoted, effervescent wife Sonja, and he got lucky his new neighbor, Parvaneh, took to him for no good reason. It made for a good story; I doubt I would feel as forgiving in reality.