The Invoice

Jonas Karlsson

Published July 12, 2016 by Hogarth (English edition)

Standalone / Short Story

27245980

Growing up, I was always referred to as ‘the worry wart’ of the family.  For some reason, even as a child, I have always been keenly aware of money, and what it means in our society.

I have always known the value of a dollar, the weight of gold in experiences, and unlike every other person in the world, Disney World has been the bane of my anxiety attacks for as long as I can remember.

I love working, and I don’t like to rely on anyone else financially.  I have never had

So, with that out in the open, you can understand why I was intrigued by the premise of The Invoice, a book that address the financial cost of memories and experiences that may not have a price tag hanging off of them.

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?

img_5086The book starts off with our unnamed narrator receiving an astronomically high invoice, which he assumes is spam mail.  He ignores the initial contact, but when he receives a second follow-up invoice, with late fees attached, he decides to call the hotline number and see what the invoice is all about.  As the novel progresses, we learn that the everyone in the country is being billed for living their life, and the ones who live ‘happier’ lives, are the ones with steeper invoices.  Somehow, our narrator has the largest invoice in the country, but why?  He isn’t wealthy at all, he works part-time, he has no girlfriend, a rented apartment, one or two close friends, and absolutely no drive to improve his social standing or financial wealth.  Karlsson then demands us to answer the question: what is the cost of happiness, and why does it vary from person to person?

This was a short book, and so I will write a short review as there isn’t that much you can say about 200 pages.  So, while I did enjoy the thought-provoking life questions I felt that The Invoice raised, I didn’t necessarily find the book entertaining.  There were a lot of contradicting emotions that this book brought out in me, so I will try to eloquently explain why I am so torn about how this book made me feel.

img_4998The narrator remains unnamed the entire book, which I thought was odd, and his outlook on life was so unreasonably simplistic that I couldn’t relate whatsoever.  Yet, how can you be mad with someone who is so un-apologetically happy?  It’s an admiral quality, and maybe I was discontented with our unnamed ‘hero’, because I was simply jealous of him.  The flow of the story was frustrating as well.  I continued to read the book because I needed to know how everything was resolved, it seemed like the narrator was in a situation with no light at the end of the tunnel.  But then I found myself completely unfulfilled and caught off guard by the ending.

The Invoice is this weird blend of reality and fantasy; and even though I absolutely know that this scenario would never happen in our world, that didn’t stop the little voice in the back of my mind from asking “what if though?”  How much would my invoice be?

Please note I did receive this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review, but all opinions are entirely my own.

★★★

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