Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

"Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the greatest motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves."
― Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove




I'm sitting here this afternoon, alone. Alone and contemplating. Contemplating life. Contemplating time. Contemplating age. Just contemplating...

I do so with tear streaked cheeks. I've just finished crying. I've just parted with a man I've never met, yet a man I feel I know so well. A man I disliked in the beginning, yet a man I loved at the end. A man who spent his life contemplating. A Man Called Ove.

Ove (pronounced 'Oo-veh') is a cantankerous, taciturn, inflexible man. He's a veritable stick in the mudslide of human advancement, futilely rebelling against it. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots, with people always disappointing him. Over the years he has been conned, ripped off and harrassed, mainly by bureaucrats ("the men in the white shirts"), whom he despises. He is a man who lives life fairly and squarely but finds himself beset by injustice and bad luck.

Ove has certainly had his fair share of sadness. At 59, he's lost his job as well as the love of his life, his wife Sonja. He misses Sonja so much that sometimes he can't bear existing in his own body.

"Loving someone is like moving into a house. At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren't actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfections, but rather for its imperpections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it's cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home."
 

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