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Sunday, July 23, 2017
Swedish Curmudgeon Has a Big Heart
Introducing A Man Called Ovë, by Fredrik Backman, Cindy listed themes from the story and gave each of us a quote to ponder. The themes included masculinity; change and technology; relationships; and “the whiteshirts,” i.e. authority and bureaucracy. The quotes gave us food for thought, and we expressed our ideas about them and chose which theme they related to.
Ovë had a strong personality! Dennis spoke about the first quote, which was from Ovë. Ovë asked what the value of a man was in a world where everything could be bought. This brought discussion in the group about Ovë’s penchant for making things and fixing things, plus some discussion about more recent products that are not meant to be fixable. Ovë felt that people should be able to do things by themselves. His independence was strongly expressed by his life. Amy said that Ovë’s friend Rune didn’t make or fix things, but he was a valued person, particularly as a husband and friend.
The discussion went on to Ovë expressing feelings of lost masculinity when he lost his job. His firing also brought out the theme of change and technology, as Ovë was fired partly because he wasn’t keeping up with the new technology at work. Joanne said that what you do, not just what you say, should be important; as Ovë helped people by fixing things.
After Ovë had lost his job and his beloved wife, he attempted suicide a number of times; each time failing for some reason: the rope he was hanging himself from broke, the phone rang and he stopped to answer it, the doorbell rang and he stopped to answer that, or neighbors were gathered outside his picture window. These suicide attempts and interruptions were portrayed as humerous. Morna’s quote said that Ovë was not good at killing himself. Cindy observed that each of the failed suicide attempts brought something new into Ovë’s life.
Some of the quotes were about the importance of relationships. Carol’s quote said that sorrow not shared drives people apart. Ovë and his wife shared the sorrow of losing their pregnancy. Amy noted that though Ovë was not a father, children called him “grandfather.” Marilyn said that life happens to us all, and we each choose whether to become bitter or better
Frank gave us a final humorous quote, saying, "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend; but inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."