The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Audio version) – Jonas Jonasson

The story starts out with the idea that Allen, who is just turning 100, is kind of viewed as mischievous because he drinks too much vodka and that he is a sweet old guy who needs to be returned to the old age home. This notion that Allen is ever in his life going to be an innocent victim is quickly dispelled in the Forest Gump is immoral and arguably evil and yet still lovable romp of a story. You have to suspend way too much disbelief to read this… and I did. So when Allen’s past is rolled out in alternating time lines with an improbable present day adventure that begins with his taking a bus as far as fifty crowns will get him, you understand why he’s capable of so much more. In his life. Allen has met and served many world leaders, without much regard for what side he is serving so much as “how he can be of help” with his extensive knowledge of explosives.

Thus, during the journey that is Allen’s first 100 years, Jonasson paints a clear picture of seminal historic moments in a way that is amusing while magnifying the horror and the dispassionate or deeply evil behavior that made so much of the 20th Century a clusterfuck. Through the lens of the 100 year old man, we are exposed and reminded of most of the “what a mess” history of the 20th Century dished up from the Spanish Revolution, to Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project, to China, to an effort to get back to Sweden, with a stop in Afghanistan, Stalinist Russia, Siberia, North Korea, Sweden again and ultimately Indonesia. Actually, all of this world history starts in Allen’s youth when his father goes to fight for the communists in the Russian Revolution while he is a child and sets the stage for Allen’s strange ability to flip flop philosophically, morally, on the spur of the moment…

It is more than fair to call this a thought provoking book, but Jonasson has his characters do such outrageous stuff that it is also a stupid book (in a good way) and undeniably a humorous book — if you like this kind of wicked quirky stuff. I do.

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