Anxious People tells the story of a would-be bank robber, a hostage situation, a bridge, and much more. We twist and turn through the story as if on a roller coaster. Backman alternately makes us laugh and then pulls the rug out from under us, revealing some new detail that is so shocking we are stunned to tears.
The bank robber, you see, is not a real criminal, but someone desperate to get enough money to handle a short-term cash flow problem. The hostages taken turn out to be a group of people with their own issues, and while the would-be bank robber/hostage taker tries to figure out what to do (having zero experience in hostage-taking), somehow start to bond.
Often as I was reading asked myself, how can such a frightening situation be so…funny? It’s not easy to pull that off.
The tightrope walk between comedy and intense drama is one Backman handles brilliantly. There are interesting parallels and connections among some of the characters that I found believable, especially given that they were in a small town. Details are revealed just when they need to be and in a way that keeps the jaw dropping to the floor. I can’t wait to read all his other books!
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