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Fixed on Fiction

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

On Thursday, March 13th, the Fixed on Fiction group met to discuss Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Below are some of comments made during our meeting.

First, we were pleased to discover that the majority of readers loved this month’s selection. Although a few members found it to be good, not great, for the most part this title was well received in our group. When describing The 100-Year-Old-Man, book clubbers used terms like: “entertaining, zany, laugh-out-loud fun.” It seemed as though readers really appreciated Jonasson’s dark humor and enjoyed his light-hearted take on world history. When asked what elements of the text they disliked, a few members mentioned that the flashback scenes regarding Allan’s bizarre life moved a bit slower than the sections which described his current adventures as a centenarian. Some readers also mentioned feeling that the book was perhaps a little longer than it needed to be, but again the majority of comments were positive.

As a warm-up question, Elizabeth asked the group if they have ever felt like climbing out the window and disappearing themselves. Elizabeth shared her experience of wanting to climb out the window and elope when the weeks leading up to her wedding became overly stressful. Other members recalled feeling similarly when parenthood, and sometimes career-related stress, became overwhelming. So while most people cannot related to Allan’s extraordinary historical adventures, we could certainly understand his feelings when he climbed out the window on the morning of his 100th birthday.

Due to the fact that Allan was such a unique character, the group did spend time discussing some of his more distinctive personality traits. One member described him as a “stick figure character” because he never got angry (except, of course, when his cat was killed) and remained relatively emotionless throughout the text. When asked if Allan was someone to envy, one reader replied that she envied his ability to do pretty much anything he wanted because he had both the financial means and borrowed time to do so. This led to a conversation of how most of us know someone who is elderly who feels as though they can do or say anything they like simply because they are old. On this note, another member mentioned that she envied the fact that the people around Allan seemed to make exceptions for him on the basis that he was 100 years old.  

Additionally, the group was asked how Allan defies traditional stereotypes associated with the elderly. First, one reader pointed out that Allan appeared extraordinarily healthy given his age, a fact which was somewhat surprising given the impressive amount of vodka he drank throughout his lifetime! Another member mentioned that Allan didn’t see himself as 100 years old, so he never let his age prevent him from doing whatever he wanted. This led to a brief discussion of how those who are young at heart, like Allan, greatly struggle to be around people their own age. With this in mind,  Allan’s great escape from the nursing home seemed somewhat understandable.

Lastly, the group devoted a bit of time to discussing memorable scenes and characters. Nearly everyone referenced the freezer scene as a laugh-out-loud moment and remarked that the goofy nature of the story led to readers becoming desensitized to the murders that occurred. Additionally, several member enjoyed Benny and found his effort to spite his brother through a lifetime of education to be quite humorous as well.

Want to read more from Jonas Jonasson? The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden comes out this April!

Looking for more information on Jonasson? Check out this interview.

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