With a title like that, how could I not pick this book up?
It isn’t your conventional book title.
For starters, it’s 13 words long. It’s more a sentence than a title. It’s amazing how they even managed to get the entire title on the spine.
There’s none of the catchy wordplay or puns we often see in (and expect of) book titles. It is simple and unpretentious. And yet, it does its job. You read the title and you think (or at least, I thought), “Heh. Is this title a metaphor for something else?”. You pick it up and read the synopsis. You find out that no, it’s not a metaphor. It really is about a centenarian who climbs out of his window (of the Old Folks’ Home where he lived) and just – disappeared.
Well, he didn’t disappear as in – *poof* – vanish into thin air in a cloud of smoke.
He just walked. Without any clear destination, and seemingly without any reason.
And as any centenarian who’s ever escaped from an Old Folks’ Home would tell you, an adventure is inevitable when you climb out of a window and walk aimlessly.
And that is what this book is all about – the adventures of its 100-year-old protagonist, Allan Karlson, who escapes from an Old Folks’ Home on his 100th birthday, meets bizarre characters along the way, and sets off a manhunt involving the police and press.
As the adventure unfolds we begin to learn more about Allan the person, as the author deftly weaves in a parallel story depicting his earlier life. Beginning from his birth, his childhood and teenage years, and throughout his adult years, we discover how the unassuming Allan played a significant role in major political events in modern history.
The two stories – that of Allan’s adventure in the present day and that of the events that coloured his lifetime – converge towards the end of the book. This is where you realise three things:
Firstly, that Allan’s escape from the Old Folks’ Home wasn’t as random an act as you initially thought it to be;
Secondly, that having a centenarian as the hero of your story is an ingenious way of recounting modern political history; and
Thirdly, that every single one of us, at some point in our lives, for some reason or other, has felt like climbing out of the proverbial window and walking away from it all.