The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

Title:  The Invoice

Author: Jonas Karlsson
Release Date:  July 12, 2016

Length:  208 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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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.

                                            **** My  Review ****

In the search for great things, do we forget to pay attention to the little things that bring a smile to our face? How long does it take to be happy? Can we recognize that?

What is quite interesting about this book is that the writer never gives us the name of the protagonist, he is a totally nameless person, an unassuming hero, bordering on the line of malcontent .

The unnamed man is a real slave to habits. Living in a small apartment in Sweden, he works part-time in a video store near his apartment, has a small living wage and a small circle of friends. His addiction to watching movies , accompanied with pizza eating is more than obvious, and sometimes, but only sometimes, he affords small luxuries, such as buying his favorite chocolate ice cream with menthol and raspberries.

Finding an invoice for a giant, ridiculous amount of kronor will truly awaken his emotions.Surely there must be a mistake! He calls the number for the company and finds out he’s been charged for all the happy (or at least somewhat affirming) moments in his life. And as if things were not going badly enough .. he begins to realize that everyone around him receives invoices with different amounts of money. Is he going crazy?

With the concerned call, we are introduced to the second significant character of the story, the operator with a sweet tone of voice, named Maud. When our hero asks Maud about the reason for getting such an enormous amount of money, she calmly answers – “Do you think it is cheap to be alive?”. Simple question, that somehow challenges all of us to think a little more deeply about the ral cost of living.

Maud with her brutal honesty, and  her hidden sadness is a really strong character. When the protagonist complains  about not understanding how he is considered a happy man when the woman he loves is not by his side – the beautiful Sunnah, her cold blooded answer seems more than perfect – “How many people in the world are privileged to experience true love?” Again, the author throws a thought-provoking question, that shatters the readers.

Unquestionably, this book is not intended for everyone. It is definitely not intended for those who read in order to relax and to travel in the world of fantasies and better stores. But it certainly will be perfect choice for those who read non-fiction books, books on how happiness lies in in the little things, for those who like the motto – the glass is not half-empty, but half-full.  If nothing else, it is a fictional story, in which there are no enumerations and tips, but the  thought-provoking dialogues between Maud and the protagonist before you know it, record themselves in your mind.

This book will make you grateful for what you have, and on the other hand sad with about it, you can always do better , if you are ambitious enough to achieve what you want. What effect it will have on you depends on how you experience the characters. For some of you, the unnamed man will be a total failure, and for some a real hero.

While reading this book, I wanted to start plucking my hair, feeling the full frustration that the main character is going through. The end of the book gave me a bittersweet  emotion, that I cannot quite define. But on the other hand, it made me realize that some things just never change, no matter what I try.

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