Author: Jonas Karlsson
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Source: Blogging for Books
Genre(s): fiction, humor
Review Spoilers: Medium
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It’s hard to describe what was so enjoyable about this book because so little happens plot-wise throughout its 200 pages. Think Waiting for Godot except slightly less existential and a whole lot more uplifting.
The Invoice follows a nameless* protagonist, a man in Switzerland who lives a small, comfortable life… until he receives a bill for an obscenely high amount of money from a company he’s never heard from before. At first, he ignores the bill because he believes it was a mistake, but after he calls the collections company, he realizes that the cost of his life, the sum of his experiences, happiness, and privileges, all added up to a million (billion? Swedish exchange rates…) dollar sum, higher than nearly any other person in the country.
The rest of the novel follows the main character as he tries to figure out why his life experiences were so valuable and how he can re-negotiate his debt. Along the way he interacts with the harried, mysterious customer service representative named Maud and meets representatives from the off-puttingly genial Big Brother-esque corporation she works for.
Honestly, the plot of this book shouldn’t fill 200 pages, but it does.
And how it does is by introducing the audience to a character with a wonderfully optimistic perspective that he brings to his otherwise wonderfully boring life. The novel plods along with just enough mystery and anxiety about the invoice to keep the book interesting, but what keeps it enjoyable is the boundless resilience and optimism of the character.
It sounds extremely gooey and cliche, but the character made me feel happy about all the little things in my life. I really appreciated the slice-of-life feel, and I’ve never had a book give me that feeling before without also banging me over the head with intellectual parables to seem deeper than it actually is.
*If he had a name, I don’t remember it and I’m too busy living my best life after reading this book to go back and look it up.
Final Thoughts: The Invoice delivers an uplifting slice-of-life story without huge amounts of exposition or pages of self-important **artsy** philosophy. It’s a fantastic, quick read if you want a mood pick-me-up without the slog of pseudointellectualism, but after the sugar rush, it leaves you a little wanting for more meaning. Like a bucket of buttered popcorn does, except without the gross, greasy, hate-yourself feeling afterward.