About the Book:
Genre: Contemporary, Swedish,
Format: ARC PB, 204 pgs.
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Rating: 2 Stars
Hilarious, profound, and achingly true-to-life, Jonas Karlsson’s novel explores the true nature of happiness through the eyes of hero you won’t soon forget
A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country.
What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess? All these questions pull you through The Invoice and prove once again that Jonas Karlsson is simply a master of entertaining, intelligent, and life-affirming work.
It’s dry and boring to be honest. I think coming at it with the right expectations and mindset is important. It’s a happy, carefree bouncy little book.
For the first half, I felt the same as our nameless protagonist: apathetic. I wanted to like it but couldn’t be arsed to. Nameless is a boring fellow with his head in the sand. He’s not bad but he’s bland and forgettable. The writing was good, but be prepared for it to skip the standard highlights and wax poetic about a soda floor stain in a video shop.
I made it about 50% before I left The Invoice to site over my weekend. I didn’t know how it was going to end, but I couldn’t care less. I could’ve dropped it forever, except that’s not my MO.
I picked it back up Monday at work where he starts conversing with Maude and we learn about Sunita. The Invoice seemed to reward me by picking up as well. Nameless’s introspection starts to advance his character Finally things start moving forward though still the speed of molasses.
The turn of events after Sunita was obvious. Most of the story was telegraphed actually. I don’t want to call it heavy handed, but…It’s like a literary fiction novel was made into a movie.
It’s meant to be introspective and thought provoking but I didn’t get it. It seems to be money=happiness for too many people, but it actually reinforces the idea to me. After all, Nameless was stressing, melancholy when trying to deal with his invoice debt. Then…the debt goes away and he’s happy again. Even has a new romance interest after so many years alone and pining. If it’s not meant to be about the money, shouldn’t he be happy regardless? Would’ve made more sense for a punishment or something instead of letting him off scot free. It’s obvious that the goal of redistributing money to even out happiness works out. People having to pay are more negative, while those getting money have had a burden lifted. So…I don’t get it.
Maybe it’s because I’m a poor American who’s struggled my entire life with no support or proper safety net. I know firsthand how money can relieve so much stress and pressure. Studies show how it wrecks you and leaves lasting scars. Maybe it’s because I can’t stop planning just in case for my family so the message comes off trite and stupid. Nameless is an unattached bachelor with zero debt or problems. Advice from him doesn’t apply for most people. Maybe it’s because my relax days are about the simple things like doing nothing or reading anyways. Maybe I’m just not the right audience. Maybe you are.
Even with all that, I liked how it ended. It fits the plot and matches the emotional atmosphere. If you’re lost inside the protag’s head it’ll go smoother. Even though I’ve been able to do so for fantastical and vastly diverse people, Nameless and I didn't click. I couldn’t forget who I was and how it felt so out of touch with reality as I know it.