- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 9 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
- Audible.com Release Date: August 5, 2014
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00MG4N5SW
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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A Man Called Ove Audiobook – Unabridged
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Let’s start with Ove not liking the cat. Not liking the cat is one thing. For some reason bitching about a cat is supposed to be funny, but to me it’s annoying. Ove kicking the cat a couple of times cranked my wincing up a notch. But there was a way worse cat crime: Ove was going to leave the cat to die in a snow bank! The neighbor saw the cat and saved it, while Ove looked on with annoyance. So Ove isn’t just grumpy, he’s heartless--seriously mean. And then miraculously, yet still predictably, Ove comes to like the cat and suddenly they’re best friends. At least the story’s predictability saved me from fretting incessantly about the cat.
Cat problem number 2: The author, Backman, is completely absolutely totally clueless when it comes to cats. Cats are known for not being adaptable. Yet here is a stray cat; i.e., probably unsocialized and skittish and scared of people, who immediately and happily jumps into Ove’s car and accompanies him on all his errands. I mean the cat actually goes into stores with him! What??? I’ve met maybe one cat that doesn’t hate riding in a car. You usually can’t even coax a cat into the car, but if you do succeed, the second the car starts moving the cat freaks out. And it’s highly unlikely that the cat would follow its new person into a store, full of strange people, sounds, smells, and objects; it’s just ludicrous. When the cat walked into McDonald’s with Ove, that was the last straw. And never mind that restaurants don’t even allow pets (including Sweden). The writer should have made the animal a dog instead of a cat, or should have talked to a cat person before writing the book.
The next huge bitch I have is the way the author talks about the big guy, Jimmy. Ove makes a disparaging comment about the guy letting himself get fat. So at first, I thought, okay, so Ove doesn’t like fat people; he doesn’t like anyone, so that’s not surprising. But I quickly see it’s the author who has a problem. When the author first introduces Jimmy, he’s referred to a “quarter-tonner” who, the author says, probably tests bacon for a living! The author mentions something about Jimmy’s weight every single time Jimmy enters a scene. For instance, the author says something like “the overweight man gets into the car.” That’s like saying every time a non-overweight person gets into a car, “the height-weight proportionate man gets into the car.” Not only is it obnoxious that the author points out Jimmy’s weight every chance he gets, but isn’t it bad writing to repeat, time after time, the same feature of a particular character? He’s overweight, we get it. The author’s prejudices and insensitivities are shining through, and they aren’t pretty: Jimmy either has food hanging out of his mouth, or has food spilled on his clothes, or he’s looking for food. I hate to tell the author, but most overweight people are not slovenly and they often don’t even eat in public. His prejudice against overweight people was prominent and infuriating.
But I’m not done. Let’s talk about Ove’s transformation. First, why in the hell would an upbeat woman fall in love with the jerk? Talk about an unlikable character! And why would any neighbor put up with his s***? Not believable, sorry. Second, how would his personality change over just a couple of months? People don’t transform that fast, if at all. But most important, I want to know why someone who is grumpy and mean becomes a super star when he simply turns into a civil human being. Why is he being rewarded, praised, adored, and esteemed because he finally becomes civil? Why does he get extra credit for acting civil, like everyone else is doing all along?
Okay, there are a couple of fine things about the book. Ove is so well drawn, I believed every nasty word he uttered. Also, the language is good, and the story moves along seamlessly.
But there are many structural and logistical problems. One time the same paragraph appears three times within 20 pages. Once, a character disappears from a scene. And the author refers to “Jimmy’s girl” at the end, but I’m pretty sure Jimmy did not have a girl. This all points to a careless editor and writer. Debut book or no debut book, it shouldn’t be this sloppy.
I wish I had better news. Those who aren’t bothered by cat and fat insensitivities might find Ove to be interesting and funny, and the book entertaining. I didn’t. The majority of reviews are positive. It just hit me all wrong.