The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Pages: 400 / Audio: 12 hrs
After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).
It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.
I must admit that I too, was charmed by this novel. I listened to the audiobook, in which Steven Crossley delivers a magnificent narration. The story was engaging, surprising, often confounding, amusing, and filled with endearing characters.
As Allan serendipitously bounces from one adventure to another, he gathers unlikely friends and reveals glimpses of his colorful past. Allan is truly a unique individual.
“…what finally formed young Allan’s philosophy of life were his mother’s words when they received the news of his father’s death. It took a while before the message seeped into his soul, but once there, it was there forever:
Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be.”
Having attended school for only three years and becoming an orphan at the age of thirteen, Allan “…was particularly accomplished when it came to making explosions by mixing nitroglycerin, cellulose nitrate, ammonium nitrate, natrium nitrate, wood flour, dinitrotoluen, and a few other ingredients. That ought to come in handy someday, thought Allan…”
And so the adventures unfold. This is an unforgettable story that I highly recommend to anyone who doesn't take things too seriously and is looking for some laugh out loud entertainment.
After reading the novel, I discovered the movie. It was faster paced than the book but left out many of what I felt were the best parts of the story (for example, "My name is Mr. Dollars...") and didn't allow for the development of the characters. Still, it was a fun movie and I did enjoy that the language shifted back and forth between English and Swedish with subtitles. Maybe I would have enjoyed the movie more if I had seen it before I read the book but even so, I think the book is by far the better experience.