❃ [EPUB] ✻ Min Kamp 2 By Karl Ove Knausgård ➜ – Agedanna.info

Min Kamp 2 Though his style and agenda have nothing in common with Virginia Woolf, Karl Ove Knausg rd, too, has an outrageous and uncanny ability to mix the banal and the lofty, the quotidian and the existential without ever upsetting the balance He deals, in short, with life, and in this process he cuts off all layers of pretension and untruth and reveals the rawness, the failures, the temporary successes and the anxieties of modern life In this second installment of Knausg rd s massive opus, he zooms in on children and relationships, on falling in love, on his opposing needs for family life and for solitude, on trying, ultimately, to be a good man As in the first book, he makes no bones about his shortcomings this time as a father and as a partner, but nor is anyone else spared the brutal honesty of his pen from his wife s depressions to his mother in law s drinking problem he deals in all of it Although it is an autobiographical novel, subsequent interviews have revealed little invention in these revelations this is his life, these are the people in it Characteristically, he even chronicles the birth of his first child, right down to his wife s pains, primal screams and contractions, the too mild anesthetics, the intern who had to join the midwife I felt a jolt of d ja vu, and not for the first time my heart went out to his wife.As in my recent reading experience of Hilary Mantel s 2nd installment of the Cromwell series, something clicked into place when I began this second volume I was familiar with the confessional tone, I knew the main participants and could easily conjure up the scenery again although we move from Norway to Sweden and thus could better sit back and enjoy the journey he took me on And once again, part of the attraction of Min Kamp My Struggle is in its recognizability it is both voyeuristic and liberating occasionally also annoying to read of how Knausg rd feels emasculated when he walks his child s pram through Stockholm how he feels ambivalent about modern life and longs for the renaissance e.g he imagines what it would be like to live in a world which Shakespeare is about to enter how poetry seems an unconquerable land to him and how that makes him feel unworthy, yet how he tries to come to terms with it how he constantly tries to come to terms with all these thoughts and actions and often fails that he considers shortcomings but which most of us are guilty of in different ways all the time Few people bring them out into the open like Knausg rd does, and presumably that is why some of the reviews in Danish newspapers have claimed that he doesn t write about himself he writes about me, about all of us.It isn t all about children and relationships, though The main storyline which is never chronological is interspersed with strange anecdotes about friends, parents, snakes, crazy Russian neighbours, nature The minute descriptions of the materials of the world the things in it sometimes reminded me of American Psycho in its endless listing of items which seemingly serve no purpose other than to act as a kind of backdrop for the likewise endless reflections We get some interesting Norwegian perspectives on Sweden from the exile s point of view e.g on conformity , many of which I ve heard from my Danish friend living in Stockholm Along the route he muses on his own writing, on literature, on other writers He is reading The Brothers Karamazov while writing this book and complains that while he can t help reading Dostoevsky, he also feels the novel has a hysterical quality to it The existential questioning he brings into his reading, he also demonstrates in some of the dialogue between, especially, himself and his best friend, Geir They have some conversations in the latter half of the book that not only resonated profoundly with things I realized I had thought myself but which also, in my view, moved the book into a league of its own He dips in and out of second hand bookshops, buying obscure and well known books alike He heads for a caf , has a coffee and a cigarette and reads for so long that he arrives home too late for supper He is both an unapologetic reader and writer He says at one point Listen af ting, jeg gerne ville l se, var lang som et ondt r , meaning roughly The list of books I wanted to read was as a long as a year of evil, the latter part being a Danish, and presumably Norwegian, saying, which underlines exactly how he feels chained to his books, whether as a reader or a writer His writing is not necessarily a labour of love It is what he feels he must do There is a Nordic melancholia that pervades the book At times it he was too much, and I had to put aside his ruthless introspection for something lighter that would let me breathe At other times, this book precisely enables free breathing he leaves no stone unturned, is continually unplugged, leaving me, for a while at least, feeling as if I, too, had shed layers of untruth by proxy James Wood, too, is a fan of Knausg rd Here is his interview with him in The Epic Side of Truth, Wisdom Feel like my soul has turned into steel I ve still got the scars that the sun didn t heal Not Dark Yet, Bob Dylan, 1997Prior to reading this, I was skeptical about reading a roman clef based loosely on the author s life Could he succeed in depicting a seemingly ordinary life as interesting enough to fill 4 5 6 volumes Is he the Scandinavian equivalent of the fat head fiction writers churned out from MFA programs across the nation to dazzle the cognoscenti with a woeful memoir of M.y F.abulous A.gony, or, worse, a supercilious philosophizing intellectual boor who ll shortly lose the reader in his quest to bless the world with intelligence and Mensa mysticism I skimmed several reviews prior to concluding my worries were misplaced and that Volume 2 subtitled A Man in Love seemed the best place to start the 6 volume set Note each novel is self contained so you can start with any volume and need not fear being sucked into reading any of the other 5 volumes though, if you re like me, you ll want to read at least one.Knausgard s writing style is so honest, hypnotic, addictive, enduring, cozing It s not arrogant, hyper intellectual or ranting One reviewer even complemented it as unliterary Reading this was like having over to an anodyne dinner a bright, congenial, ordinary fellow who s also a world wise Norwegian artist sit down and converse with you on the level for hours, discussing ordinary things that happen in the course of life to us all, in varied forms, such as falling in and out of love, in laws, parents, pets, neighbors, child rearing, reading books, being forced to attend a party where you only know a few people and otherwise by those you despise, living quarters, career moves, traveling, restaurants, music, sports, work, old loves, old friends, returning to the place you grew up There seems no subject he ll deign to discuss, yet he s never boring You ll want to keep buying him drinks to beg him to stay.His explanation for writing this monumental work is found, I think, in this passage The only genres I saw value in, which still conferred meaning, were diaries and essays, the types of literature that did not deal with narrative, that just consisted of a voice, the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet What is a work of art if not the gaze of another personNot directed above us, nor beneath us, but at the same height as our own gaze Art cannot be experienced collectively, nothing can, art is something you are alone with You meet its gaze alone Knausgaard reifies Socrates famous quote that the unexamined life is not worth living With attention to fine detail and genuine inquisitiveness of both the significant and the mundane, he helps the reader, too, find the richness in life, revealing that, quoting Henry Miller, we have only to open up to discover what is already there Reading this book or any of the other volumes is a particularly helpful exercise for the young writer in showing not telling.Knausgaard incredibly winkles the extraordinary out of the ordinary as if it were pearls from oysters And, he does so in such a way that s real than reality Italy s La Republica Some examples that are typical in his tale of falling in love with and having children with his current wife What was it that Rilke wrote That music raised him out of himself, and never returned him to where it had found him, but to a deeper place, somewhere in the unfinished I have no problem with uninteresting or unoriginal people they may have other, important attributes, such as warmth, consideration, friendliness, a sense of humor or talents such as being able to make a conversation flow to generate an atmosphere of ease around them, or the ability to make a family function but I feel almost physically ill in the presence of boring people who consider themselves especially interesting and who blow their own trumpets But what do you say to have any impact on a man who at one time admired the Spice GirlsI concur with the assessment by the New Yorker s reviewer that Knausgaard has hit on the epic side of truth, wisdom. The original Norwegian editions of Karl Ove Knausgaard s six volume My Struggle series, presented in thick 500 page installments, have purportedly sold than a half million copies and won lots of prizes If rumors of such critical and commercial success are true, even if only in Scandinavia, it s good news for humanity, since these volumes lack traditional plot, let alone anything approaching bondage, vampires or wizards Maybe it helps that Knausgaard, a respected author of two novels before he d even started My Struggle, has a bold, sensationalist, attention grabbing title appropriated from Hitler s polemical autobiography, which forces readers to contrast his representation and impressions of his writing family life with the F hrer s concerns Or maybe the series has stormed across Scandinavia because its scope and approach suggest Proust s In Search of Lost Time, but instead of tracing the past in rapturous, velveteen, serpentine effusions every passage suffused with chrysanthemum dust My Struggle presents something comparatively without affectation, a steady, solid, quotidian, flinty albeit likely to burst into tears, like squeezing water from a rock representation of and insight into what it s like for one man to be alive.In Fall 2012, both my mother and a grad school friend recommended the first volume to me, saying it sounded up my alley It was way up there, in approach, accessibility, unpredictability, unexpected humor, and heft For a few years I ve been saying that fiction that feels like fiction is not my favorite sort of fiction I ll turn on a novel for an overwrought simile comparing a Gatorade cap to a crown of thorns Maybe it s just me, but I prefer fiction that feels unlike contemporary literary fiction I m not necessarily a fan of experimental or explicitly unconventional fiction, either Turns out I just seem to prefer fiction that feels real Twain said something like the difference between fiction and non fiction is that fiction must be absolutely believable Thomas Wolfe the guy who wrote Look Homeward, Angel, not the guy in the white suit who wrote Bonfire of the Vanities said that fiction is fact, selected, arranged, and charged with purpose Both of these assertions apply to Knausgaard s recent work, except I don t think the author, at least as he presents himself in the My Struggle series, charges his selections and arrangements of fact with an explicit purpose other than trying to get as close as he can to the core of life No conventional plot therefore, yet nevertheless engaging, consistently insightful, and almost recklessly sincere.This series is a multivolume masterpiece of sincerity It s epic literary autobiography, worthy of the traditional and recent meanings of the modifier epic A Norwegian living in Sweden may have written it but it fulfills David Foster Wallace s prophecy about post ironic fiction in the United States The next real literary rebels in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single entendre principles Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S life with reverence and conviction By now, at least as Knausgaard presents Sweden in this volume, the notion of U.S life can be expanded to include Western Civilization s so called First World, including Scandinavia Like DFW, Knausgaard covers significant territory across apparently infinite pages but he doesn t do it in a look Ma no hands backflipping with a smile sorta way All the formal elements of traditional fiction are in place, sans gimmickry No attention getting footnotes or images or power points or graphs or numbered lists or Danielewskisms No masturbatory flights of language en route to the celestial sublime No silly set pieces or big dance numbers at the end No talking pieces of poo Nothing included for a joke No excessive modifiers or anything that feels like it s not part of the author s attempt to stay as close as possible to what he perceives as the core of things, the honest truth of life He also realizes that such a project may seem megalomaniacal, and he addresses this than once, never mythologizing himself, always his worst critic, always forcing himself to submit to humility.What happens in this engrossing, readable, plot less stretch of 543 beautifully formatted pages published by Archipelago Mostly child care Instead of the mythologized image of the author of the past, we find a 21st century house husband, considering himself feminized compared to how fathers once raised children, living in a homogenized culture thanks to international influence as in Murakami, American fast food joints are name checked, including Burger King and Subway Europe was merging and into one large, homogeneous country The same, the same, everything the same Karl Ove is a 30 something Norwegian who s left his first wife and moved to Stockholm, where, despite this sense of sameness, he can t read clues revealing minute social gradients as he can in Norway The author s good friend Geir, another Norwegian writer living in Sweden, rants about the differences between Norway and Sweden the way some in Philadelphia may occasionally rant about the differences between Philly and New York Sweden is essentially orderly In Norway people bump into each other on the street Norwegian academics don t dress so well Book 1 ended with the author cleaning up the mess his recently deceased alcoholic father made, literally and figuratively As with Book 2, it started in the recent past and presented a surprisingly fresh vision of the author with young children, at playgrounds, struggling with plastic contraptions meant to convey children across town As in the first volume, these opening sections create a sympathetic image of a manly, cigarette smoking Scandinavian author overrun by three children, loving them deeply, trying to control them, aware that this image of a father who gets down on the floor and plays with a rattle with his kids is relatively recent and yet by now pervasive.His own upbringing had been strict, his father distant and scary, and so Karl Ove struggles with his father s spirit inside him He has a history with drink, too In one riveting recollected scene in which he drinks himself into a world that s narrowed to a dark tunnel, after the woman who will become the mother of his children humanely rejects him, he smashes a glass and uses its largest, sharpest shard to shred his face.In both books, this opening fatherhood gambit won me over, made me willing to follow him wherever he went In the first volume, it s teen years playing in a terrible band and looking for a place to drink on New Year s Eve In Book 2, it s his first days in Stockholm and the story of how he met his wife, Linda, the woman who helped him become who he is today prize winning successful novelist pushing around three young children in a stroller.The central struggle in this volume is achieving a balance between family and art He wants a family, three children like a little gang, but he also wants to be left alone to write He has an all or nothing mentality, so this conflict drives the story It s all pretty deceptively simple For me, society is everything, Geir said Humanity I m not interested in anything beyond that But I am, I said Oh yes Geir queried What then Trees, I answered He laughed Patterns in plants Patterns in crystals Patterns in stones In rock formations In galaxies Are you talking about fractals Yes, for example But everything that binds the living and dead, all the dominant forms that exist Clouds Sand dunes That interests me Oh God, how boring, Geir said No it isn t, I said Yes, it is, he said.David Foster Wallace s 1990 essay E Unibus Pluram Television and U.S Fiction concludes with questions about what will come after postmodern irony Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism Today s risks are different The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the Oh how banal To which Knausgaard might reply For me it was trees and leaves, grass and clouds and a glowing sun, that was all, I understood everything in the light of this An elaborated elegance makes this series what it is Its patterns and formations feel organic and humble yet troubled and in no way understated The form in the first two volumes at least suggests something like quiet majesty It s only as complicated as it needs to be, with simply dramatized scenes with plentiful short bursts of dialogue, summarized scenes, stretches of essayistic exposition, all in rotation in a way that I comfortably anticipated over time Yet, despite what s essentially a not very experimental form, the project itself as a whole seems unconventional, almost unhinged Three thousand pages of literary autobiography about a middle aging Norwegian writer and his wife and kids and friends and family You kidding me His kids don t even suffer from Marcusian language pathologies No empathic immersion in the presentation of other lives No specific canonical biggie despite the title and physical similarity to Proust s multivolume masterwork providing explicit formal and thematic support Of the young writers I had read there was only Jerker Virdborg I liked his novel Black Crab had something that raised it above the mist of morals and politics others were cloaked in Not that it was a fantastic novel, but he was searching for something different That was the sole obligation literature had, in all other respects it was free, but not in this, and when writers disregarded this they did not deserve to be met with anything but contempt.By the time of the second volume s action, Karl Ove has written one well regarded novel but the money is running out He hasn t written much of anything for four or five years He s included in an article about writer s block and authors who ve only written one novel But he s searching for something different, a way out After seeing Bergman s production of Ibsen s Ghosts with his future wife, he has a model for the sort of work he wants to do in the future The play offers a bright horizon for the author, and a guide to the book in the reader s handsA kind of boundlessness arose, something wild and reckless Into it disappeared plot and space, what was left was emotion, and it was stark, you were looking straight into the essence of human existence, the very nucleus of life, and thus you found yourself in a place where it no longer mattered what was actually happening That was where I had to go, to the essence, to the inner core of human existence This inner core of human existence manifests as conversations with friends, dinners at home, fights with a Russian alcoholic neighbor who blasts music in the middle of the night, irritation with his wife s inability to pitch in around the house and thereby force him to do all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, all of which gracefully revolve in the present, interspersed with non linearly proceeding backstory This sort of structure after a while feels like associative telescopic stargazing into the past, the present naturally filled with expanses of history Inclusion of non linear backstory makes the whole story feel real and alive, its edges open and scalloped instead of straight, orderly, contrived, and fictional, since memories tend not to appear in order Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, nor something that was meaningful or made me happy This had nothing to do with a lack of desire to wash floors or change diapers but rather with something fundamental the life around me was not meaningful I always longed to be away from it So the life I led was not my own I tried to make it mine, this was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts.A half million Scandinavians might like Knausgaard in part because this longing for something meaningful, his attempts to find meaning and beauty in the banalities of life, his struggles at home and with his artistic ambition, are the mark of a conventional protagonist whose obsessive desires are ceaselessly impeded by obstacles It s a double bind in Knausgaard s case art impedes family and family impedes art Like Homer Simpson s famous revelation about alcohol, art and family are the cause of and cure for all his problems.In the second volume, there are two exaggeratedly extreme acts the drunken face cutting when younger and the manic immersion that produces his second novel, A Time For Everything, risking his family for the sake of his art So often I sympathized with the author s situation I read passages aloud to my wife involving discussions about day care so similar to discussions we d just had She began referring to the thick squarish hardback as my new best friend As a father of a three month old daughter, a writer learning to balance family and art, this volume was even up my alley than the first one about teenage drinking bands and the death of his father Yet, despite convergences, I would never go at my face with a shard of glass and I would never leave my family to live in an office for weeks to write a novel Of course, it s possible that neither of these extreme actions ever happened It s possible that these semi sensationalist moments are straight up fiction But it feels wrong to type that, as though it betrays a trust established between writer and reader over than 1000 pages at this point.I don t want to make it seem like this series was written only for me, since most likely its revelations about self, its honesty with itself and with the reader, bring the project close to readers than one But still, it s a rare expanse of recently published prose that opines about Thomas Bernhard in the context of the narrator s search for what he would do after his second novel No space was opened up for me in Bernhard, everything was closed off in small chambers of reflection, and even though he had written one of the most frightening and shocking novels I had read, Extinction, I didn t want to look down that road, I didn t want to go down that road Hell no, I wanted to be as far from that which was closed and mandatory as it was possible to be Come on Into the open, my friend, as H lderlin had written somewhere But how, how The clear answer to the preceding question is the book itself, a non annoying narrative loop de loop By the time the above quotation appears on page 409 we have a pretty good idea of how he ll write his way out I don t in any way want to suggest that the book runs cutesy metafictional macros on the reader It s like the second volume begins to catch up to the point in recent history when he began the project Whereupon I foresaw an ending in which Knausgaard makes it to the absolute present, completely caught up with himself, writing about writing the sentence he s writing.Early on in the second novel he states that the work is its own reward Sitting in a room alone working on what he s writing is all he really wants There s something inexplicitly East Asian about his project, his interest in naturally occurring patterns, as though writing is not about creating another form of narrative entertainment or gaining an audience of readers but a meditation that produces text as traces of where his mind traveled whenever it achieved the solitude he longed for As such, the primary enlightenment Knausgaard offers involves humility and endurance, presented in uniquely formatted short bursts followed by hard returns, amounting to the volume s thematic climax on page 501If I have learned one thing over these years, which seems to me immensely important, particularly in an era such as ours, overflowing with such mediocrity, it is the following Don t believe you are anybody.Do not believe you are somebody.Because you are not You re just a smug, mediocre little shit.Do not believe that you re anything special Do not believe that you re worth anything, because you aren t You re just a little shit.So keep your head down and work, you little shit Then, at least, you ll get something out of it Shut your mouth, keep your head down, work and know that you re not worth a shit.This, or less, was what I had learned.This was the sum of all my experience.This was the only worthwhile thought I d ever had Again, part of the struggle for the author is to triage eventual criticism that he s a self serving megalomaniacal freak He s successful in this He wins the reader over thanks to what seems like sincere introspection throughout But also through well phrased contempt for unnamed examples of the sort of self serving mediocrities he s afraid he might be or become Knausgaard succeeds in presenting the particularities of his conflict with such steadiness and clarity that it appeals on a deep level to a large readership There are very few sensationalist details or betrayals of confidence that trigger voyeuristic impulses in readers There s very little sex, for example, and when it occurs it s procreative, on a couch after watching a crappy movie Ultimately, the sense you get from reading this series, the mental and emotional state achieved when silently immersed in its pages, is of connection with another human being, a man from a distant yet familiar place, like yourself in some ways but not in all ways, a man concerned with achieving existential fulfillment, stability, peace In the end, the project itself seems like proof that he s achieved a productive balance There s a sense that he s able to write this My Struggle series while maintaining his family Wikipedia says he s still married to Linda and they live with their three children, and he s clearly lived up to manifesto like spiels about fiction in My Struggle.I suppose just because a purported half million Scandinavians have read Knausgaard s series doesn t mean I should lump them together But a great novel seems to bring its readers together, those who ve shared an experience, each similar yet unique There s no question that this volume continues a remarkable series that I expect will have long lasting influence, at least on me as I gulp down the remaining 2000 plus pages as they appear in English over the next few years If Knausgaard s project influences a generation of literary autobiographers, in theory, for now, it s fine with me I d love to see fiction that feels unlike fiction because it consists of fact selected, arranged, and charged with the purpose of presenting itself as real Not hyper real reality or semblances seen through the scrim of tasteful artifice, but as real as it gets, raw, unadorned, and awesome If interested, here are my reviews of Books One, Three, Four, and Five. A masterpiece I think it surpasses vol 1, although it is less fun and less immediately accessible If vol 1 was death and childhood, this is love and aging, and it is perhaps the best depiction of love that I have ever read Family love, romantic love, courtship Fascinating structure A digression that lasts from p 20 p 527, inside of which is a digression that goes from 70 520, inside of which is one from 105 340, inside of which is one that runs from 125 281 The outermost frame, the beginning and the end, details the moments that led to the writing of vol 1.I read this volume faster than the first, somehow, and mostly in the basement of my family s french antique store It knocked me flat Oddly, I think most of one of the most simple moments Knausgaard is washing dishes and, tired, he leans his head forward against the cabinet against the sink for support I d done this for years And I ve thought about this book every time I ve washed dishes since. Book Two of My Struggle makes good on the promise of an epic of the everyday toward the end of the book Karl Ove describes his idea of literature as a kind of participation in the gaze of another, how only diaries and essays continue to move him as works of literature because that is where one might come closest to inhabiting another s gaze on the world, another s purview onto being Thus the book he begins to write, thus the book we hold in our hands For even here among the ascetic, exhaustive disclosure of raw daily living we find metafiction at work The new sincerity though I can t make the claim People simply do not remember things in this way Autobiographical fiction, yes but sincere I am in no position to qualify this This is unmoored remembrance, digressionary autobiographical meanderings, extended maundering, with an emphasis on the creational aspect of dream recall, because again no one remembers like this The language is as spare as ever it is my impression, correct or not, that not a single metaphor was employed throughout the entirety of these 600 pages The sparseness, or attempt at a minimalist precision in the prose, at length can give the impression of a kind of austerity, severity, but the lie to this is given in unexpected moments of dark laughter and lengthy passages where the eye is cleared to apprehend the substructure of sublime beauty a landscape or a scene manifests Karl Ove is especially susceptible to tempering his angst with a rejuvenation of the senses in a kind of nostalgic or aesthetic drawing into the color of the sky, the twinkle of the stars, the inky night, the smell of a forest or salt water, the sound of waves, the sparkle of snow, the rhythms of a busy city, the mise en scene of a noisy gathering of people The latter is where I can see a sort of similarity to Proust, though I still think it is a lazy critic who attempts to elucidate things about this project in terms of Proust, something else is at hand here But there is a similar concentration on personality revealed during extended dialogue and miniscule observation from the narrator Possible influences are revealed in this volume, Dostoevsky s Underground Man and Hamsun being, to me, the clearest analogs But mostly this is a book about a rootless man attempting to write while managing a marriage and children the primary concern of this book is what it is like to be a father in his mid thirties and the attempt to come to terms with what his life is The impressive thing is that Karl Ove manages to draw us so completely into his almost unremarkable daily concerns and makes them feel so vital to us, outside, gazing in on the gaze searching out Again, the idea that every life is an odyssey, an epic, no one excluded The adventure of becoming whatever it is you end up becoming That there is a shadow always over our small happinesses and successes, and that there is a background of quiet hope behind our failures, that grasping our authenticity and our becoming is indeed a struggle Perhaps this resonates the most with those of us who feel we don t exactly belong in the lives we one day find ourselves living, but isn t this everyone at some point Karl Ove here in Book Two is cataloging a kind of universal alienation of the individual, and he does it with startling success These books he has written are close to our lives, we should be glad they are out there for us to inhabit. I really, really, really loved the first one of these, but I did not love this one It was at times a slog to get through There were some great moments and I m glad I finished it, because it ended strong, but the majority fell into the risky trap of this project, and read to me like excerpts from a self absorbed parenting blog detailing what life is like as a successful writer with a family in Sweden spoiler alert in the absence of any other worries medical bills, say, or the need to do unpleasant work for a living, Scandinavians have the leisure to spend days purchasing books and contemplating how miserable they are Sweden does sound annoying in that too good to be tolerable way, sort of like Portland but with socialized medicine and an entire class of people gainfully employed in producing culture Plus too dark and cold Anyway My current life is somewhat similar to the one described by Knausg rd, minus the success and people dropping by regularly to tell me how brilliant and talented and good looking I am I too am stuck home with a baby, and while in one way this made the book interesting than it would ve been otherwise, in another it made me wonder why I should bother reading about his, when I have plenty of Struggles of my own yes, I get that that s the point, but it didn t stop me from wondering it.I kept trying to decide why I loved the first one but didn t really have the patience for this Part of it is that bourgie creative class life in present day or very recent Stockholm just isn t nearly as interesting to me as life growing up in Norway in the seventies there wasn t magic in this one, as there was in the first, except in a few rare moments and then at the end The first book transcended the mundane casually, habitually, pretty much constantly, while the second was the opposite we got stuck with much less fascinating characters, in an infinitely less compelling landscape, for hundreds and hundreds of pages Clearly this was the point, but again, knowing that didn t make it any interesting to read.My other problem and I hate admitting this, because I secretly think people are stupid when they demand likable characters, so this is me saying that I m stupid was that I couldn t stand Knausg rd or his partner or his friend or really anyone else in the book Much as I d love to be too high minded to let this trouble me, in the absence of captivating plot, atmosphere, language, theme, etc., I am not and it did His partner seemed miserable, he seemed like a dick, and I just kept being like, Will you unhappy whining people please stop having children which, yes, again, I do get that that s the point but it didn t make this any of a pleasure to read I know this makes me sound like a moron, but there were all these times when he would say something gross about, say, a disabled person, or American Indians, or the time he smashed a poor furry bat with a brick I love bats , and I d just be like, Why am I doing this dick the courtesy of inhabiting his head This dramatized a tension that s always made me uncomfortable that as a reader, you re having an intimate experience with a person who is than likely not someone you d ever spend actual time with, being as a lot of writers are socially anxious weirdos, arrogant assholes, or just not people I d ever want to know, or who d ever want to know me I learned pretty early on it was usually better to avoid meeting my favorite living writers, and even to avoid reading interviews with writers or other artists whose work had affected me, because their real life personas were always disappointing in a way that disturbed my relationship with their work Knausg rd is aware of and interested in this, and he forces the issue by being the subject of his book, and by being obsessively self reflexive about the question of what others including us, his readers think of him.Writing this review is making me realize that many of the things that made this book interesting were the things that made it not much fun to read However, I am a casual ditcher of books I don t enjoy but I stuck this one out, and on some level I did feel my struggle was worth it The ending, when he returns to Norway and then starts writing the first book, is at points almost unspeakably beautiful And, being me, I cried at the end There are some things he s doing here that are great, and in themselves worthwhile I haven t decided yet if I ll keep going to number three probably I will, though after a long pause This took me forever to get through but I wouldn t let myself start new novels until I finished it, so I ve got a major backlog of books that aren t about Karl Ove Knausg rd s struggle, and I m looking forward to reading some of those. A Man in LoveThe fact that paintings and, to some extent, photographs were so important for me had something to do with this They contained no words, no concepts, and when I looked at them what I experienced, what made them so important, was also non conceptual There was something stupid in this, an area that was completely devoid of intelligence, which I had difficulty acknowledgng or accepting, yet which perhaps was the most important single element of what I wanted to doKarl Ove Knausg rd, My Struggle Book 2Sometimes writing a review of a book is just about marking the space, staking the ground, scratching the wall with hard chalk I swim back and forth about how I feel about Knausgaard Hell, I swim back and forth about whether I want to spell his last name Knausgaard or Knausg rd Right now I don t feel strongly either way Completely ambivalent Sometimes, I think Karl Ove s art is his huge capacity for being pretentious and narcissistic, but just to be fair I also think the same thing about most artists There is something about the personality of an artist that IS by their nature selfish, demanding, exhibitionist crying for notice, for acclaim, for some distant other to meet their gaze, catch their pitch, experience their trip I think of the story of Picasso s daughter showing him her beautiful new shoes, and he takes them and paints them and makes her cry And I mean all this ego art as a good thing I guess what, for me, sets Karl Ove apart from other fiction artists authors is he exposes or at least wants us to THINK he exposes a lot about his life in his art His self is stylized, but not hidden He isn t hiding his ego behind another character He makes his ego a character He isn t trying to hide his flaws and boy sometimes there seems to be buckets of flaws or those of his family see Linda or friends He uses those weaknesses like a painter uses shadow or a carpenter uses sandpaper His prose seems to jump between three styles 1 Hyper detailed narrative about his life This isn t a straight narrative He will jump back and forth in time He starts with three kids, backs up to before he meets Linda, progresses through courting, marriage, babies, and during this journey forward will occasionally run back in time as he recalls events or situations that add to his current narrative Anyway, this style is the bulk of the book and allows for very descriptive accounts of fights with his wife, struggles with family members, trips, walks, meals, etc It is like he took his journal diary and just tossed it in and expanded it 2 Excursions into philosophy In the middle of an event in his life, Karl Ove will suddenly digress and spend 3 10 pages discoursing on literature, painting, angels, life, death, children 3 Excursions into nature city Not only does he take walks, but any movement might lead Karl Ove into a journey into a sunset, swarm of birds, buildings, beach, clouds He is painting with words, trying to capture in words what a Turner or one of his photographer friends might capture with a lens.4 Discussions with friends mainly his close friend Gier These parts accomplish the same things as 2, but as a dialogue with counterpoints instead of a straight inner monologue So, here I sit 1 3 or two books into My Struggle and not yet tired of it My feelings for these books ebb Franzen at his worst and flow Proust at his best depending on the prose and my own mood At times, when I m feeling great and the book seems to be on fleek, it all ends up being a groove I was meant to slide down , but there are times when the prose seem to be working fine, but I m just not feeling it or when the prose kinds stinks, but I seem not to mind very much Thankfully, there have been very few instances where me and the novel seem to be mired at the same time I might have lost faith at times in Knausg rd as a person, but not in what he has written yet , and not yet in his role as an artistOver recent years I had increasingly lost faith in literature I read and thought this was something someone has made up Perhaps it was because we were totally inundated with fiction and storiesThe only genres I saw value in, which still conferred meaning, were diaries and essays, the types of literature that did not deal with narrative, that were not about anything, but just consisted of a voice, the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet What is a work of art if not the gaze of another person Not directed above us, nor beneath us, but at the same height as our own gaze Art cannot be experienced collectively, nothing can, art is something you are alone with You meet its gaze aloneKarl Ove Knausg rd, My Struggle Book 2 My first impression of Karl Ove Knausgaard came from a black and white photograph published with a review of his book A Time For Everything in The New York Review of Books.He is seen smoking against the rugged Norwegian landscape, hair disheveled, wearing an old, battered tee shirt, lost in thought Completely and unabashedly himself, yet ill at ease Entirely present, feet deeply rooted in the present moment, yet his mind is clearly in flight, flickering at the surface of his gaze.The striking portrait somehow encompasses all of the qualities of his writing intense, raw, physical, elusive, inquisitive and elemental.http www.nybooks.com articles archiWhat Knausgaard achieves in My Struggle , his mad yet mesmerizing 6 volume autobiographical enterprise, is simply the most real depiction of the movements of the mind that I have ever read A life told in its most boring minutiae and its most elemental highs and lows, as it moves from the most mundane to the most transcendent Knausgaard plays alongside Proust or Virginia Woolf in his desire to encapsulate all of his experience as a human being, a teenager, a son, a friend, a lover, a father but most of all a writer But he does it with even urgency, radicality, anger and modernity An Everyman of the 21st century with a 17th century temperament.The second volume of this autobiography, which tackles the fire and vagaries of love as well as the deep ambivalences that lie at the heart of domestic life and parenthood, is utterly engrossing.My only sadness comes from the fact that I now have to wait another year before we get the third installment in English.Read him, and listen to him below speak about Book 1, which deals with his youth and the death of his father, and he might very well change the way you look at the world around you and your own reaction to events.http youtu.be 1ODhM41VOYg from Min kamp 1 It was now than two weeks since I had published my review of Min kamp 1, and during that time I had not posted anything new Every day, I stared at the screen, tried to begin, abandoned my unsuccessful attempt after half an hour Maybe I would never again manage to produce a meaningful piece of writing I checked my mail for the third time that afternoon Someone I didn t know said they thought it was amazing that I could read the books in the original Norwegian There s nothing much to it, I wrote back I lived in Sweden for ten years, and Norwegian is closely related After I had replied, I was filled with self loathing How could I waste my time on such trivia Once , I vowed I would stop doing it, but I knew I was too weak willed I went downstairs to have a cigarette.But you don t smoke, said my girlfriend Not when I returned I do when I m reviewing Knausg rd, I said in an irritated voice I went into the kitchen and began to unstack the dishwasher I put each item back in its correct place the glasses directly over the sink, the cups next to them, the flat plates in the cupboard above the counter, the bowls beneath it, the cutlery in the plastic holder opposite, the wooden spoons in the box that had once held a bottle of Old Pulteney You don t really want to be doing this, do you asked Not, as she came over to put her arms around me What would you rather be doing instead Reading Min kamp 2, I snapped I just need time to finish it Not began to weep quietly, and I immediately regretted my harsh words She is a very fragile person, who has never recovered from being raped by her step father at the age of 12 Or possibly it was something else that had happened to her I have a poor memory for this kind of thing As usual, I found myself apologizing.Come on, said Not, as she dried her eyes Let s go for a walk You can bring your book I put on my sandals, took a pair of sunglasses from the bowl near the door, dropped the Knausg rd in a blue cloth shopping bag and opened the door We took the elevator down, passing the fourth, third, second and first floors on our way to the bottom Although I had already done so earlier, I checked the mailbox, but there was nothing new I opened the street door We went out on to rue du Mont Blanc, then turned left down rue de Chantepoulet So what do you think your review will be like asked Not I don t know, I said I think the review form is exhausted The last worthwhile thing posted on Goodreads was Geoff Wilt s review of Finnegans Wake There are only two reviews on the site that are worth reading Everything else is simply mediocre Including my work I look at it, and all I can think is it s just stuff about books It s without value Dishonest.We had now reached the lake With the setting sun behind us, the scene resembled one of Rothko s paintings At the bottom, the darker blue of the water merged into the grey blue of the Sal ve, then into the lighter shades of the sky A smear of white on one side marked the Jet d Eau the darker spots in the foreground resolved themselves into a family of ducks, slowly paddling upstream against the current of the Rh ne You don t need to write about the book, said Not, as she took my hand Just write about your life Whatever you like You re an excellent writer You could write about going to the bathroom and people would read it.You know, I said, you might be on to something there to Min kamp 3 Having Left His First Wife, Karl Ove Knausgaard Moves To Stockholm, Sweden, Where He Leads A Solitary Existence He Strikes Up A Deep Friendship With Another Exiled Norwegian, A Nietzschean Intellectual And Boxing Fanatic Named Geir He Also Tracks Down Linda, Whom He Met At A Writers Workshop A Few Years Earlier And Who Fascinated Him Deeply Book Two Is At Heart A Love Story The Story Of Karl Ove Falling In Love With His Wife But The Novel Also Tells Other Stories Of Becoming A Father, Of The Turbulence Of Family Life, Of Outrageously Unsuccessful Attempts At A Family Vacation, Of The Emotional Strain Of Birthday Parties For Children, And Of The Daily Frustrations, Rhythms, And Distractions Of Stockholm Keeping Him From And Filling His Novel Intense And Vital Where Many Contemporary Writers Would Reflexively Turn To Irony, Knausgaard Is Intense And Utterly Honest, Unafraid To Voice Universal Anxieties The Need For Totality Brings Superb, Lingering, Celestial Passages He Wants Us To Inhabit He Ordinariness Of Life, Which Is Sometimes Vivid, Sometimes Banal, And Sometimes Momentous, But All Of It Perforce Ordinary Because It Happens In The Course Of A Life, And Happens, In Different Forms, To Everyone The Concluding Sentences Of The Book Are Placid, Plain, Achieved They Have What Walter Benjamin Called The Epic Side Of Truth, Wisdom James Wood, The New Yorker Ruthless Beauty Aftenposten This First Installment Of An Epic Quest Should Restore Jaded Readers To Life The Independent Between Proust And The Woods Like Granite Precise And Forceful More Real Than Reality La Repubblica Italy


About the Author: Karl Ove Knausgård

Nominated to the 2004 Nordic Council s Literature Prize awarded the 2004 Norwegian Critics Prize.Karl Ove Knausg rd b 1968 made his literary debut in 1998 with the widely acclaimed novel Out of the World, which was a great critical and commercial success and won him, as the first debut novel ever, The Norwegian Critics Prize He then went on to write six autobiographical novels, titled


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