The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. When I first heard the title of this book I was intrigued. And it wasn’t just because of the fact that the title foretold of a really old man disappearing after climbing out of a window; it was also because I wondered what kind of author would write a book with such a long title. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. It doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it? And try saying that title in one breath. It leaves you gasping. Most writers have short catchy book titles (emphasis on the short), not whole sentences like Jonas Jonasson (By the way, don’t you love how little imagination his parents must have had giving him a name like that?). It was with these two curiosities – the old man and the looong title – that I dove into the adventure of a little old man climbing out of a window.
Allan Karlson is about to turn one hundred when he decides that a subdued life in an old-age home is no longer for him. Escaping through a window (in his slippers), Allan goes on a whirlwind adventure which includes secret hideaways, several murders, criminals and a bag of money. As Allan continues his adventure, glimpses of his life reveal how Allan played behind-the-scenes roles in some of the most momentous events in history. What brought Allan to his one-hundredth birthday and will his adventure continue in spite of his age?
As I understand it, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared has been made into a film. But, it is a foreign film and I think it is voiced in Swedish – the same language as Allan and his friends would have spoken. I can’t speak Swedish as many of the world can’t. But, the problems with the film, as I have heard (since I haven’t actually seen the film myself), are that, firstly, the translation (whether dubbing or written translation) is not all that great and that there is an abominable amount of swearing which wasn’t present in the book. Not sure I understand why absent swearing in the original novel should suddenly be present in the film. But, needless to say, I am not keen on swearing so I haven’t yet brought myself to try and watch the film.
Personally, I would love to see what Hollywood could make of a story like this or even the British film industry. I am sure there are several brilliant actors who could play the part of Allan with as much vigour as Allan himself had in the book. I’d love to see how different people’s perceptions will be of old age after seeing someone so much older than them have such an adventure that they themselves can only dream of. I know that even my perception of older people changed after reading the book (let alone seeing a movie where that is the case). Think about how amazing a story with say James Bolam (from BBC’s New Tricks) as Allan Karlson would be……
It would be brilliant!
In My Humble Opinion:
Even though I found Allan Karlson’s hundred-year-old life very intriguing and fascinating, what I found most fascinating was the little splashes of history thrown into his younger life. Though the story is quintessentially fiction, parts of reality were thrown in I suppose to add an interest factor and make Allan seem more real.
I haven’t actually checked every piece of history in the book for accuracy (maybe someone with some great history knowledge who has read the book can tell us if all the historical information is accurate) but I must say if the overall histories are real (which they certainly seem to be), this book would be a fabulous way to learn a little about history. When I was at school we had history class (for a few years) every week. Of course, I live in South Africa so much of the history I learnt about concerned South Africa and not really much else. But, in spite of all this, what I remember most is that we all (every one of us) despised our history classes. I honestly don’t think that this had anything to do with having no propensity for history. Rather, history for me was presented as a series of facts and figures (kind of like Accounting which I also detested at school). We were told that, in year X, something happened and, in year Y, something else happened.
The problem as I have since discovered (since I rather like history now) was that history is not just a series of facts and figure. History as the word sort of implies is a story of the past. I have since (after those detestable history classes were nothing but a memory) learnt some interesting things about major events in history. I have also learnt that history is better when there is a perspective – when it becomes less about a series of events and more about a person’s experience of them. World War II was not just a series of Hitler’s actions featured in a textbook; it was also a struggle for individuals who found themselves embroiled in a war. History comes to life when it becomes a story about a person.
And that is exactly what Allan Karlson’s story is. It’s not just a series of past events but how a man’s life intertwines with those events. This is what makes Allan’s younger years so interesting. I think that beyond teaching people that being old doesn’t mean you can’t do anything but die (“old is not cold” as the saying goes), The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared also gives people an insight into world history that like me may never have fascinated them before until Allan became part of it.
I would recommend heading to the book title below the image and purchasing a copy of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared! Not only is it exceptionally funny but it will give you a fabulous chance to get into the mind of an old man (for all of those of you with fathers and grandfathers) and even better will bring the history we find so dull and tedious to life.