a man called Ove

is the title of an excellent book by Fredrik Backman. As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
He felt one should not go through life as if everything was exchangeable. As if loyalty was worthless. Nowadays people changed their stuff so often that any expertise in how to make things last was becoming superfluous. Quality: no one cared about that any more. Not Rune or the other neighbours and not those managers in the place where Ove worked. Now everything had to be computerised, as if one couldn't build a house until some consultant in a too-small shirt figured out how to open a laptop.
'They've bumped up the electricity prices again,' he informs her as he gets to his feet. He looks at her for a long time. Finally he puts his hand carefully on the big boulder and caresses it tenderly from side to side, as if touching her cheek. 'I miss you,' he whispers. It's been six months since she died. But Ove still inspects the whole house twice a day to feel the radiators and check that she hasn't sneakily turned up the heating.
'Now you listen to me,' says Ove calmly while he carefully closes the door. 'You've given birth to two children and quite soon you'll be squeezing out a third. You've come here from a land far away and most likely you fled war or persecution and all sorts of other nonsense. You've learned a new language and got yourself an education and you're holding together a family of obvious incompetents. And I'll be damned if I've seen you afraid of a single bloody thing in this world before now.' ...
'I'm not asking for brain surgery. I'm asking you to drive a car. It's got an accelerator, a brake, a clutch. Some of the greatest twits in world history have sorted out how it works. And you will as well.'
And then he utters seven words, which Parvaneh will always remember as the loveliest compliment he'll ever give her.
'Because you are not a complete twit.'
Men like Ove and Rune were from a generation in which one was what one did, not what one talked about.
Ove has probably known all along what he has to do, but all people are time optimists. We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like 'if'.
'But serious, man. You do this every morning?' Jimmy asks cheerfully.
'Yes, to check if there have been any burglaries.'
'For real? Are there a lot of burglaries round here?'
'There are never a lot of burglaries before the first burglary,' Ove mutters and heads off towards the guest parking.
'There is no hope for these boys and girls,' the headmaster soberly explained in the interview. 'This is not education, this is storage.' Maybe Sonja understood how it felt to be described as such. The vacant position only attracted one applicant, and she got the boys and girls to read Shakespeare.


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