the invoice

*hitting stores July 12, 2016!*

LISTEN

MUNCH

your favorite ice cream + sugar cone

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READ

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

publisher: Hogarth Books, July 12, 2016

genre: fiction, satire, psychology

length: 208 pages

cost: kindle – $11.99, hardcover -$18.37, audio – $24.99star-rating-four-and-a-half1

HILARIOUS, profound, and achingly true-to-life, Jonas Karlsson’s new 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.


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hiya dears! i received this lovely ARC from hogarth books in exchange for an honest review; as always, this will have no standing on my opinion of the work. 

i will say, this book is definitely very different from the usual y.a. books i’ve been reading lately. honestly, i don’t think it fits under the y.a. category; it’s a little reminiscent of literature books that i read for class (in the best way possible. seriously.) and i actually really like it for that. the book itself is a simple read, occasionally a little dry, but i definitely need to go back and reread it again, simply because there are so many nuances that i’m sure i’ve missed. the book functioned more as an exploratory piece than a “go on an adventure” type piece for me; i wasn’t reading simply for the colors, but stopping to think about things as i read, because karlsson challenges so much of how we think and how we act through his words. 

immediately, from the first few pages of the book, you can really get a feel for what the setting is like. i really enjoyed karlsson’s subtle descriptions; he’s never in your face about details and descriptions, but he does a very good job of adding just enough detail in a sentence or a phrase to make the whole place come alive. you can feel the stickiness of the floor and push against the jamming of the door, and the ambiance of the room matches the mood of the story marvelously well, like a well fitted coat.

the story really opens your eyes to what the cost of happiness is. i think it’s a beautiful, novel way of showing what life would be like if everything had a price. as i ventured deeper into the book, i think it really opened my eyes to a few things that – though i’d always kind of “known” in the back of my mind – i had never really stopped to think about.

“do you imagine that all is free?”
[…]
“well, being alive costs.”
{the invoice 31}

the narrator reminds me a little of meursault, from camus’ the stranger. on the whole, he is relatively different from meursault, but sometimes their voices share a similar quality in the mild indifference and their matter-of-fact way of thought, and the book itself feels kind of derived from that whole detached perspective. 

there’s one passage (i’ll do my very best to keep it spoiler free) that really just made me stop, which is exactly the reason i’m typing now. it presents the correlation between finances, work, and happiness in a way that most of us our wired to think about it, but when laid out in such a blatant fashion, i think it really stunned me. it was extraordinarily humbling.

“but we weren’t especially rich or anything…”
“that doesn’t make any difference to the experience, does it?”
{the invoice 47}

i loved the frank references to things we all experience in daily life, like the forever wait on the phone for customer service (all of you know exactly what i’m talking about). and everything in this book, oh my gosh. it’s so good and so startling all at once. seeing how we view our world, seeing how we exist in our world is so crazy, because we hardly ever stop to take a step back and look at ourselves. as we trundle further along in the book, karlsson presents an interesting dynamic between simply being versus living in life.

that’s the saddest thing of all. i had every opportunity, but what the hell have i done? nothing. nada. not a damn thing.”
{the invoice 117}

i find the comparison really interesting, because when both are taken to extremes, both are awful. we should just sit and watch life pass us by, but i really don’t think we ought to cram it full of things to do either. sometimes it’s nice to just sit and bask in simply being here.

“we didn’t really do much. we just… well, what can i say? we just were.
{the invoice 121}

this novel was obscure and quirky in the nicest way possible. it’s such a thoughtful piece, and i really encourage all of you to read it at some point. i picked it up with only because it was a small book, and i wanted to pretend i could make a dent in my huge TBR pile. but truly, the invoice is such a little gem and karlsson does an incredible job of opening our eyes to the price (or pricelessness) of the little, but oh-so-significant things in our lives.

“god, i don’t know, it feels like i’ve been fooled somehow, as if everything i avoided was actually… well… life itself.”
{the invoice 117}

 

 

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