Film Review: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

A Little Blog of Books

The Hundred-Year-Old ManLast week, I was lucky enough to attend a special screening of the film adaptation of ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’ at the Soho Hotel in London ahead of its general release on Friday. Thanks to the likes of Steig Larsson and Henning Mankell, Sweden is generally more famous for producing atmospheric crime fiction. However, the comic novel by Jonas Jonasson has been a worldwide hit and has been translated into more than thirty languages with more than six million copies sold since 2009. The film is likely to match the book’s success across the globe this summer having already broken box office records in Sweden when it was released last December.

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

Blogging for a Good Book

disappearedWith a life like Allan Karlsson’s, who wouldn’t want to live to be 100 years old? Befriended by Francisco Franco and Robert Oppenheimer, creator of both the American and Soviet atomic bombs, drinking buddies with Harry S. Truman, consultant to Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, and rescuer of Mao Tse-Tung’s wife, smuggled in a Russian submarine, imprisoned in both the Soviet gulag and a North Korean prison, Bali beach bum, translator for an ambassador to France… All this because Allan had that most 20th Century of skills – blowing stuff up.

Now, at the age of 100 (having blown up his home) Allan is in a nursing home. He’s not finished with life, so an hour or so before the local dignitaries are coming to begrudgingly celebrate his centenary, Allan goes AWOL. Not that he has anyplace in particular to go –  although that’s never been a problem – but he doesn’t…

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Here’s to the ladies who punch …

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book and review it along with the books I’ve already reviewed about *men* boxing–this is a much needed project. See Malissa Smith’s post below:

Girlboxing

Here’s to the ladies who punch …

A History Of Women's Boxing

Today’s my big day.

The culmination of over two years of work on my new book, A History Of Women’s Boxing.

I get to strut my stuff in the ring at Gleason’s Gym and speak to an audience of assembled friends about the courage, bravery and pure gumption that women have shown for the past three hundred years each time they’ve donned the gloves. Oh yes, and smile a lot, sign books and jump around with glee!

It’ll be a moment to savor — though I admit to a plethora of doubts:  Did I get everything right? Did I forget someone? Did I make the point about pushing social and legal boundaries enough? Will the reader understand just how brave it was for a young and plucky Barbara Buttrick to insist that she had the right to box in 1949?

The historian’s lament…

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Five Fascinating Facts about George Orwell’s 1984

Interesting Literature

1. George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on this day, 8 June, in 1949. But this wasn’t the original title of the novel. According to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, Orwell initially planned to set the novel in 1980; this then became 1982, and finally 1984 (or Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the title is usually rendered).

Orwell12. Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room in BBC Broadcasting House. In this room, during the Second World War, he had to sit through tedious meetings when he worked for the Ministry of Information. Indeed, the Ministry also served as the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth, where the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, works. ‘Room 101’ has, of course, entered wider linguistic use as a term for something containing one’s pet hates or worst fears. Although the novel also popularised the terms ‘thoughtcrime’ and ‘thought police’, these…

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FLASH BOYS: The Unforgiving Hand of Truth

BookPeople

flash boys
Flash Boys
by Michael Lewis

review by Andrew H.

Flash Boys, the latest from the ever prolific Michael Lewis, is a fantastic eye-opening account of the inherent corruption of the financial system. Not only the corruption, but Lewis exposes the fact that most bankers were too ignorant of the complex systems that ran the stock market to even realize what was happening. If you thought that after the Great Recession of 2009 the banks were forced to act more responsibly… this book will slap you in the face with the unforgiving hand of truth.

Luckily, the banks are run by humans, some of which have a moral compass and a sense of doing right by those whose interests they are supposed to protect. Flash Boys is their story. It’s common in populist rhetoric to believe the financial system is a well thought out machine, designed on purpose to…

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William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central | A Short Riff on a Long Book

Biblioklept

Kilian Eng Kilian Eng

1. William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central,  811 pages in my Penguin trade paperback edition (including end notes), is a virtuoso attempt to describe or measure or assess or explain or analyze the Eastern front of WWII, a part of the war that in my American ignorance I know, or knew (no, know) so little about.

2. The book covers 1914-1975, most of the composer Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich’s life. If Europe Central has a hero, it is Shostakovich.

From the book’s last end note, “An Imaginary Love Triangle: Shostakovich, Karmen, Konstantinovaskya”:

When I think of Shostakovich, and when I listen to his music, I imagine a person consumed by fear and regret, a person who (like Kurt Gerstein) did what little he could to uphold the good—in this case, freedom of artistic creation, and the mitigation of other people’s emergencies. He became progressively more beaten down, and certainly experienced…

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Review: I Want to Show You More, by Jamie Quatro, Grove Press 2013, 206 pp.

Purchased / Reading With: The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermott, Summer Reading edition of Tin House

Type of Book: Loosely linked short stories / story cycle

My Research Interest: For entertainment

Structure: 15 stores of varying length, set around Lookout Mountain on the border of Georgia and Tennessee

Impression: I knew these stories would be “good” and “competent” short stories, because I trusted the recommendations. However, I was not prepared for the aching psychological depth of these stories. Quatro’s characters and narratives are not superficial, and anything but slight. This impression was solidified when the fourth story, “Here,” made me cry. I do not cry often when reading, yet this book made me tear up at least three times. Quatro demands the reader consider the mysteries, pains, and joys of parenting, marriage, illness, death, fear, and faith. The stories are intimate, visceral, and very much for today—but also timeless. The book is dark and light at once, challenging the reader to reconcile the two.

Readability: Everyone should read this book. This is one of those books that, if read with an open heart, will make the reader a better person.

Oscar Wilde in Prison

A R T L▼R K

51chT0vHKVLOn the 19th of May 1897, Irish writer Oscar Wilde was released from prison after serving a two year  sentence for criminal sodomy and “gross indecency”. He had to go through hard labor and major deprivation, a very problematic situation for a hedonist accustomed to his creature comforts. His experiences in prison were the basis for his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol(1898).

In a bid to understand the reasoning behind Wilde’s imprisonment, Neil McKenna’sThe Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003) systematically investigated all available evidence about Wilde’s amorous liaisons, his lifelong erotic attraction to men and his subsequent support of Uranianism. The latter was a 19th-century term which referred to the actions of a person of a third sex, neither entirely male, nor female, someone with “a female psyche in a male body” who is sexually attracted to men, later extended as a definition…

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On Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway

Interesting Literature

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway was published on this day, 14 May, in 1925. In honour of this, we thought we’d offer a few little facts about this novel, and about Woolf herself.

The action of the book takes place over just one day – a ‘moment of June’ in 1923 – although there are flashbacks to events that occurred in the characters’ lives over the previous five years, in the immediate wake of WWI. The original title of the book was ‘The Hours’, a title that Michael Cunningham would go on to use for the title of his novel about Woolf, which weaves together events from Woolf’s own life and events from Mrs Dalloway. The book was filmed, in 2002, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman (the latter of whom famously wore a prosthetic nose to portray Woolf).

Woolf stampMrs Dalloway wasn’t the only novel Woolf wrote the action of…

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