The 100-Year-Old Man that Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

That title is quite the mouthful, but it's unique and interesting enough that I picked it up, even though it's outside my usual range of interests. It's not often I choose to read a title outside the sci-fi/fantasy genre or reference works for writing, so when I stumbled across this title at the library, I surprised myself when I decided to give it a go.

The thing about books that are set in the real world - or so it seems to me, I could always be wrong - is that they're usually set in the real world for the sake of highlighting one of two things: the characters, or the message.

In this case, it might have been a bit of both, since they're tied together, as far as I can tell. As with a book like Pride and Prejudice disregarding all worldbuilding in favor of displaying the characters and their relationships, The Hundred-Year-Old Man only goes so far as to describe the time period and the world in so far as it directly affects the main character.

Similarly, as Little Women foregoes all description of the world at large in favor of its message, The Hundred-Year-Old Man skips over anything that doesn't interact with the main character to focus on the relationships he builds and how that reflects on the world by contrast.

The book was deeply entertaining, funny, engaging, and sometimes very moving, though mostly ridiculous. But it used the ridiculousness of its narrative in order to further its message, which reminded me of some of Kipling's work in The Jungle Books, using the strangeness of the animal tales to drive home the idea that humans are not only ignorant of the world they live in, making up stories to justify their greed, but they're actively ignoring what little they do know in order to promote more profit for themselves.

I've never read anything quite like The Hundred-Year-Old Man that Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, but I found its narrative quite charming, and it kept me interested all the way until the end with a double-sided story - about the main character as a very old man running away from the old folks' home, and about the main character as a younger man growing into the old man we meet in the first chapter.

And as it happens, the message (which, as I read it, boils down to "politics make everything more complicated and life would be infinitely simpler without") is one I agree with. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy stories about improbable luck, ridiculous bluffs, and trusting that things will "work out somehow." If a lack of forward thinking or planning for the future bothers you, don't read this book. The main character isn't much in the habit of making plans that make sense.

#Review #GeneralFiction #HistoricalFiction #sortof

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