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In this utterly remarkable novel Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with painful honesty about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and unpredictable father, and his bewilderment and grief on his father's death. When Karl Ove becomes a father himself, he must balance the demanIn this utterly remarkable novel Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with painful honesty about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and unpredictable father, and his bewilderment and grief on his father's death. When Karl Ove becomes a father himself, he must balance the demands of caring for a young family with his determination to write great literature. In A Death in the Family Knausgaard has created a universal story of the struggles, great and small, that we all face in our lives. A profoundly serious, gripping and hugely readable work written as if the author's very life were at stake....

Title : A Death in the Family
Author :
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ISBN : 9780099555162
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 496 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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A Death in the Family Reviews

  • Manny
    2018-11-29 02:10

    I sat, leaning slightly forward, and continued to stare at the screen, but I could think of nothing to say. I shifted my weight, trying to find a more comfortable position, and scratched my head, using my left hand; my right shoulder had still not completely recovered from the skiing accident I had suffered earlier that year, when for a few days I had felt near death. Now, it was hard to remember how I had experienced that time. A small shower of dandruff landed on the keyboard, and I wondered if I ought to change to a different brand of shampoo, but I had recently bought five bottles of Garnier Extra Mild, which were still sitting on the right-hand side of the cupboard under the bathroom sink, just behind a blue and white packet of paper tissues. It seemed ridiculous to waste the shampoo. I visualized the curved font on the label; now it occurred to me that exactly the same font had appeared on the tins of golden syrup I had eagerly spooned over my porridge as an eight-year-old. Not only that, the color of the shampoo was almost the same as that of the syrup. I felt a sudden connection to the person I had been then, and saw my father, now dead, looking at me as I dragged my spoon through the viscous syrup, stirring it into small waves and curlicues as it gradually diffused into the cooling porridge. I knew I was wasting precious time: I had been sitting there all afternoon, and so far I had not written a word. A wave of angst washed over me. My eyes filled with tears. I moaned involuntarily.Ååååååååå, I said. Ååååååååå.Not, my girlfriend, appeared in the doorway. Are you alright? she said anxiously. What is it?It's okay, I said. I'm just reviewing Min kamp.[to Min kamp 2]

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2018-11-16 23:08

    ”But Dad was no longer breathing. That was what had happened to him, the connection with the air had been broken, now it pushed against him like any other object, a log, a gasoline can, a sofa. He no longer poached air, because that is what you do when you breathe, you trespass, again and again you trespass on the world.”I first met Karl Ove Knausgaard while watching an interview he gave to BBC. He has all this barely tamed hair surrounding a face that conveys peaceful reflection. He has dramatic, bold features. Hollywood casting need look no further for what a novelist should look like or an artist or maybe even a poet. I can easily see him walking around in a toga in Ancient Greece, with a flock of students following him around, waiting to tongue any words he wished to speak. Karl Ove is obsessed with his father, and therefore by extension, he is obsessed with himself. To understand how he feels about his father, he has to also understand himself. He can’t just loath his father without loathing himself. He can’t like himself until he figures out what it was that made his father so indifferent. Did his father abuse him? Karl Ove doesn’t share any physical confrontations, but the way he keeps track of his father would indicate that there was a real fear of his father’s presence. ”When I could see him I felt safer with him, and in a way that was what mattered most. I knew his moods and had learned how to predict them long ago, by means of a king of subconscious categorization system, I have later come to realize, whereby the relationship between a few constants was enough to determine what was in store for me, allowing me to make my own preparations. “ The brooding silence of his father and the difficulty that he, his older brother Yngve, and their mother had having a conversation with him can also be a form of unintended abuse. His father was unhappy.I found it interesting that no one seemed to explore the idea of what was making his father unhappy. Was it a natural chemical imbalance? A dissatisfaction with life? A melancholy over feelings of failure? There are five more volumes, so more may be revealed. As children, we don’t really care why our parents are upset; we just hope they aren’t upset with us. Analysis of our parents comes much later when we first start to navigate the perils of creating our own life on our own raft. His father didn’t drink much alcohol, and then if the Glomma River had turned to booze, he would have gladly drowned in it. The boys were long gone, living their own lives. He moved in with his mother and drank himself to death rather efficiently and quickly. When they came for the funeral, they found their grandmother in a state they never expected to see. ”The dress she was wearing was discolored with stains and hung off her scrawny body. The top part of her bosom the dress was supposed to cover revealed ribs shining through the skin. Her shoulder blades and hips stuck out. Her arms were no more than skin and bone. Blood vessels ran across the backs of her hands like thin, dark blue cables. She stank of urine.”A few years ago, I bought a house to use as a rental. An old woman had lived there by herself. The carpets had not been swept in a long time. Knobs were broken on the appliances. Everything was dusty and dirty. Smudge fingerprints were on the walls. The living room carpet had a huge brown blood stain that had never been cleaned up properly. The ceilings of every room was black with cigarette smoke. The house had been neglected for years, which also had me thinking that the woman had been neglected as well. Family becomes busy, and they don’t realize that their older relatives have become incapable or indifferent to caring for their home, but also for their person. It was certainly a lesson for me and reading about Karl Ove’s grandmother reinforced my own need to be attentive to my older relatives. The book jumps around from time period to time period. We get a glimpse of Karl Ove when he is working as a writer, struggling to be an attentive husband to a pregnant wife when all he wants to do is disappear into the world he is creating with his words. ”I have always had a great need for solitude. I require huge swathes of loneliness and when I do not have it, which has been the case for the last five years, my frustration can sometimes become almost panicked, or aggressive. And when what has kept me going for my whole adult life, the ambition to write something exceptional one day, is threatened in this way my one thought, which gnaws at me like a rat, is that I have to escape.”I always love pictures like this because it is like looking into the soul of reader. I can look at the books on their shelves.Karl Ove has an addictive personality, and drinking and smoking is not spoken in terms of having one or two, but in having multitudes until he is somewhere beyond drunk and his throat is raw with smoke. He finds that, if he drinks, he can reach the happy zone where others at a party seem to reach so effortlessly. Smoking calms his jittery nerves down. He is self-medicating to appear as normal as possible, as many of us do.The book is oddly hypnotic. His writing style, even in translation was smooth and easy to read. I asked myself a couple of times why I was reading this? It isn’t really my kind of thing, but every time I set it down to read something else, it wasn’t long before I reached for it again. I almost felt like a priest hearing Karl Ove’s confession, a whisper out of the dark Norwegian night. ”And death, which I have always regarded as the greatest dimension of life, dark, compelling, was no more than a pipe that springs a leak, a branch that cracks in the wind, a jacket that slips off a clothes hanger and falls to the floor.”If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  • Adina
    2018-12-04 22:03

    I lay on the beige textile corner sofa thinking that I should start writing my review for A Death InThe Family, My Struggle Part 1. I sit up, unplug the laptop from the white charger and sit back down. I open the lid, punch in the password and click on the Notes application icon. A new blank page is revealed to me. I then start to look at the empty screen and realize I am hungry. I sit up again and take an orange form the fruit basket who also containes pears, apples, bananas and kiwis. I reach for the fruit knife from the counter and start to cut the orange peel in equal sized parts. The smell of fresh orange juice fills my nostrils with expectation. I start to unwrap each juicy orange bit and put them in a bowl to take with me. I lay in the sofa again with the laptop on my lap. I start to type a few words while eating the orange. Bored already? I am. However, Knausgaard writes in the same excruciating detail about all sorts of mundane stuff and I was never bored (almost) while reading this almost 500 pages memoir. Here is an example of his detail at its worse: “I joined Yngve, who was standing in front of the house hold detergents section. We took Jif for the bathroom, Jif for the kitchen, Ajax all-purpose cleaner, Ajax window cleaner, Mr. Muscle for extra-difficult stains”- and he goes on and on with the things he bought. Yes, he wrote almost half a page about his shopping choices in a local supermarket. The first few times I heard of this book and the omnipresent comparison with Proust, I thought that it is the kind of book literature “snobs” would read because of its originality and to prove their endurance with an unreadable novel. In short, I ran away from it with all my might. Gradually, after reading more and more positive reviews from friends my attitude became a bit more accepting and I became even interested. While on holiday in beautiful Norway, I bought a couple of Norwegian novels , this one included. I was surprised by the fact that I was drawn in the Karl Ove Knausgaard’s memoir from the first sentence. “For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops. Sooner or later, one day, this pounding action will cease of its own accord, and the bloody will begin to run towards the body’s lowest point, where it will collect in a small pool, visible from the outside as a dark, soft patch on ever whiter skin, as the temperature sinks, the limbs stiffen and the intestines drain.” Creepy but fascinating in the same time.It took me two months to finish the first of this massive six volume fictionalized autobiography. I felt that I could not be rushed. Even though the book is filled with unnecessary mundane details about the author’s life and it does not have an obvious plot I found it strangely readable and fascinating as a literary Big Brother can be. The volume is structured in two parts, the first one deal with the author as boy growing up with bits and pieces from different periods while the 2nd part discusses the death of his alcoholic father and the burial preparations which trigger more memories from childhood. There is also a part about him as a struggling writer struggling to be affectionate to a pregnant wife and to also find the much needed solitude to write. The narration shifts between painfully detailed memories of everyday activities including banal dialogues between family and friends to deep philosophical insights. “Writing is drawing the essence of what we know out of the shadows. That is what writing is about. Not what happens there, not what actions are played out there, but the there itself. There, that is writing’s location and aim? But how to get there?”Knausgaard is an amazing writer, a wizard who manages to keep one interested and absorb all his written words. His sincerity is shocking and disarming. We get to see him as a self-absorbed man who is sometimes a jerk with the ones around him, who loathes his father and wants him dead but is destroyed by his death. A man of who likes to be alone and is afraid to talk to people but writes a 7 volume memoir about himself. It was fascinated to enter Knausgaard mind with all its contradictions and flaws.

  • Melanie
    2018-12-10 04:12

    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/archi...What 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 more urgency, more radicality, more anger and more 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.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

  • Douglas
    2018-12-08 02:47

    “Life's a pitch, as the old woman said. She couldn't pronounce her b’s.” I’m not sure I can say much of anything about this work that hasn’t already been said. I still have several volumes to finish. The next one is nearly 600 pages, so in a way, I’m just getting started on this enterprise. Perhaps the best I can do is to offer a few of my observations. All I keep thinking is that this is the best boring book I’ve ever read. I can’t believe how utterly boring it is and that I cared. Every detail seemed mundane and lead to nowhere. I can’t believe that Knausgaard actually made me care about his first beer run or the detailed cleaning strategy he used to prepare his deceased father’s home for a wake. In the London Book of Reviews, the novelist Ben Lerner writes, “It’s easy to marshal examples of what makes My Struggle mediocre. The problem is: it’s amazing.”And that’s exactly right. This boring book is amazing. Ask me why, and I doubt I could adequately answer. The only fleck of amazement I can even begin to articulate is the genius it took to actually remember or create an allusion to memory that had to occur for this book to be written. How in the world could anyone remember such detail from a decade ago? I can barely remember five minutes ago. I found it almost unbelievable that Knausgaard remembered how deep he dipped his teabag into the cup at his Grandmother’s house back in the early 90s’. The only way I could continue reading and find it believable was to devise some theories as to how he remembered these details. I know this is a novel and categorized as fiction, so there’s always liberties. But, I also know that it’s been marketed as autobiographical and that many of his own family members were so mortified by this book that they have refused to speak to him again. Here are my theories about how Knausgaard constructed the details in this book: • He knew he was going to write this novel from a very early age and therefore set about remembering and notating every single detail of his life, mundane or not. Genius.• His memory failed him and he couldn’t remember anything, except for the major incidences, and therefore was forced to make up all the details, and every single minor observation is fiction. Genius. • It’s a combination of both. He remembered some things, and what he didn’t, he had to relive or re-observe. He literally went back to his grandmother’s home and cleaned the railings with a rag and detergent and then recorded his observations as they would’ve occurred had he remembered every detail. Genius!He does write that at one point he burned all of his journals from when he was younger, so my first theory may not be correct. He also states that his memory is weak, which supports the theory that the details were made up. Again, just a theory. There may be proof otherwise. I don’t know how he did it. Perhaps I’ll gain some insights in the next volume.Either way, I can’t undo what’s been done. I have a feeling this book will forever change the way that I read and observe life. I wish I could say more or review more eloquently, but this is one of those you just have to see for yourself.

  • Glenn Russell
    2018-12-10 02:02

    Karl Ove Knausgaard - Norwegian novelist born in 1968This first volume of the author's novel captures episodes in his life, usually as a boy growing up but sometimes events in his twenties and thirties and also reflections as he writes in his forties, through a particular lens: the poignant emotions and heart-break of a teenager. While this would probably be a formula for literary disaster if attempted by most writers, in the skillful hands of Mr. Knausgaard it is a formidable achievement.How does he do it? Darn, if I know but, like a Cirque du Soleil juggler juggling eleven balls at once, Karl Ove makes it look easy. You might ask: `Why can't I write like that?' Well, go ahead and try! You will find out very quickly just how extremely difficult such a feat is to pull off. For example, he mixes this hypersensitivity with both light and dark humor as he sits at his writing desk and projects how the public will ponder his death, and captures the flavor in a number of wonderfully whimsical poems. Here are a few snatches:Here lies a man who never complainedA happy life he never gainedHis last words before he diedAnd went to cross the great divideWere: Oh, Lord, there's such a chillCan someone send a happy pill?**Here lies a man of lettersA noble man of Nordic birthAlas, his hands were bound in fettersBarring him from knowing mirthOnce he wrote with dash and witNow he's buried in a pitCome on, worms, take your fill,Taste some flesh, if you willTry an eyeOr a thighHe's croaked his last, have a thrill.**Book not accepted, the man blew his topHe guzzled and belched and couldn't stopHis belly it grew, his belt got tight,His eyes glared, his tongue alight"I only wanted to write what was right!"And why have many reviewers, both men and women, described Karl Ove Knausgaard's writing as riveting and gripping? In large measure, I think the answer lies in the fact that the author's words reawakens the reader's own forgotten teenager years with all their intensity, insecurity and emotional, hormonal topsy-turvy. Matter of fact, the connection is so direct, many people have had the strong sense they were reading their own autobiography instead of his. In a way, this was my experience, as well.One last example - here is a bit of the narrator's passionate swirl, age sixteen, when he is with Hanne, the first love of his life: "What does laconic mean? she asked, her green eyes looking at me. Every time she did that I almost fell apart. I could smash all the windows around us, knock all the pedestrians to the ground and jump up and down on them until all signs of life were extinguished, so much energy did her eyes fill me with. I could also grab her around the waist and waltz down the street, throw flowers at everyone we met and sing at the top of my voice." Ah, to be sixteen and in love. This is only Book One. Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote six thick volumes of My Struggle. What an exhilarating read; what a narrative voice; what an author. Thanks Karl.Coda: Volume One contains powerful, almost overwhelming emotionally charged scenes revolving around Karl Ove's father. Be prepared for some tough going as you turn the pages, especially toward the end of the book.

  • Darwin8u
    2018-11-28 20:07

    Book 1: A Death in the Family"And death, which I have always regarded as the greatest dimension of life, dark, compelling, was no more than a pipe that springs a leak, a branch that cracks in the wind, a jacket that slips off a clothes hanger and falls to the floor."First, let me say something about this novel (and I'm assuming the next five novels) that is both simple and genius. This is a weird book. It captures the reader because it falls into a funky zone between memoir and fiction. He is telling secrets. Opening the dirty closets. Cleaning the shit out of an old house. It is exhibitionism of sex, shit, death, life, etc., but it is also a clear reflection. So much of the power of this novel for me is a direct response to how clear I see myself in his exposure. I read about his relationship with his brother, his father, his girlfriends, his mother and I see myself. I see his thoughts on music and art and I think, hell, that is me too. I know it isn't, but that is the trick. Knausgaard uses these forms, or creates this form, in his novel that he fills with his own memories and history and soon you are seeing yourself in these same locks. Structure/Forms/LocksIn his novel he mentions that great literature is structure or form first. He talks about this about half way through the book:"For several years I had tried to write about my father, but had gotten nowhere, probably because the subject was too close to my life, and thus not so easy to force into another form, which of course is a prerequisite for literature. That is its sole law: everything has to submit to form. If any of literature's other elements are stronger than form, such as style, plot, theme, if any of these overtake form, the result suffers. That is why writers with strong style often write bad books. That is also why writers with strong themes so often write bad books. Strong themes and styles have to be broken down before literature can come into being. It is this breaking down that is called "writing". Writing is more about destroying than creating. - p195Add this to Knausgaard's view of time and I think we get a hint at how he writes, and perhaps, what makes this novel so great:For, while previously I saw time as a stretch of terrain that had to be covered, with the future as a distant prospect, hopefully a bright one, and never bring at any rate, now it is interwoven with our life here and in a totally different way. Were I to portray this with a visual image it would have to be that of a a boat in a lock: life is slowly and ineluctably raised by time seeping in from all sides. Apart from the details, everything is always the same. And with every passing day the desire grows for the moment when life will reach the top, for the moment when the sluice gates open and life finally moves on. At the same time I see that precisely this repetitiveness, this enclosedness, this unchangingness is necessary, it protects me. - p 33So, I see his novels as a combination of these ideas, something like below:Eugenides captures this construction perfectly in his review in the New York Times:"Knausgaard’s life is a grab bag of events and recollections, and he uses whatever is handy. He doesn’t lie or make things up (so far as I know). But the ­selection process he subjects his memories to in order to fulfill the narrative demands of his writing rises to a level of considerable artifice. Other writers invent; Knausgaard remembers. His raw materials are more authentic (maybe), but the products they create no less artful."Knausgaard's life/history/experience is the water he fills his locks with; the paint he paints his story with. It isn't history. It isn't autobiography. It isn't even good memory. It is art imitating life.

  • brian
    2018-11-27 20:42

    that statistic about how often the average man thinks of sex? well, double it, change 'sex' to 'death' and you have a hint as to what's going on in my head. the thought that (spoiler) you, me, and everyone we know, ever will know, and/or ever will know of, will end up an inanimate object seems preposterously unfair and, conversely, is what drives me to live-it-the-hell-up in my pitifully brief time on this less-than-a-speck-of-dust in our expanding universe. obsessed with death, a collector of death (no bodies in my basement, i'm talkin' the artistic and historical representation of), karl ove knausgård jumps to the top of my personal canon (thanon?), edging in there right under ol' philip 'nothing more terrible, nothing more true' larkin. as with life (KOK's secondary subject), there're pages and pages of dullsville until a flash of the morbidly sublime, ineffable, & mysterious rears its head and all that banality - as with boring memories seen through the lens of time passed - takes on the hazy glow of significance.an imperfect book: my favorite of the year because of its imperfections. and five more volumes to come. yee-fuckin'-haw!on seeing his father's corpse: Now I saw his lifeless state. And that there was no longer any difference between what once had been my father and the table he was lying on, or the floor on which the table stood, or the wall socket beneath the window, or the cable running to the lamp beside him. For humans are merely one form among many, which the world produces over and over again, not only in everything that lives but also in everything that does not live, drawn in sand, stone, and water. And death, which I have always regarded as the greatest dimension of life, dark, compelling, was no more than a pipe that springs a leak, a branch that cracks in the wind, a jacket that slips off a clothes hanger and falls to the floor.on memory: You could still buy Slazenger tennis rackets, Tretorn balls, and Rossignol skis, Tyrolia bindings and Koflach boots. The houses where we lived were still standing, all of them. The sole difference, which is the difference between a child’s reality and an adult’s, was that they were no longer laden with meaning. A pair of Le Coq soccer boots was just a pair of soccer boots. If I felt anything when I held a pair in my hands now it was only a hangover from my childhood, nothing else, nothing in itself. The same with the sea, the same with the rocks, the same with the taste of salt that could fill your summer days to saturation, now it was just salt, end of story. The world was the same, yet it wasn’t, for its meaning had been displaced, and was still being displaced, approaching closer and closer to meaninglessness.

  • Geoff
    2018-11-17 04:07

    It was a sense of bewilderment at the utter banality that is the immediate surface of this project of Knausgaard’s that at first had me thinking “I’m not going to be able to see this book through” and questioning not only whether it was worth my time but actually was it worth his, all this writing? It was a genuine bewilderment because I was taken aback, flustered, and not a little annoyed that he seemed so casual in his approach, so utterly unconcerned with any kind of decoration, any kind of Style, that thing that lets one know one is reading a personality that has encountered a world in some kind of authentic way. Nabokov is an overture of interlocking etyms fluttering in accord of each other in a flower garden like the lepidoptera he obsesses over and Gaddis is turmoiled density a kind of cacophony that emerges as tonal bliss and Joyce is the music of the spheres, a radiant cosmos, and Woolf is a kind of chamber orchestra in a shadowy room, but what was this? Just a man talking? Knausgaard is not a stylist, he is not a musician, he might be something like when the rain streaks the pavement different tones of bone-color and you are startled to become aware that this static plain is actually capable of unconcealing multiple appearances, that even a square of pavement can reveal a variety of essences - or when old bricks are made fox red by the right angle of light, fleetingly the animal can be seen in the baked clay. Or the gray cloud bank that arrives and only announces itself, gray cloud bank, but you understand that a gray cloud bank is a touching phenomenon all on its own. He is not Proust. Someone writing at length about their childhood does not make that someone a Proust. Proust is the sound of the different branes of our personal temporal multiverses gently touching one another creating big bangs that detonate and spread subaqueously, subcutaneously, muted and unnoticed but sending us forward in our lives, like we are the disturbed air waves on which the viola sings searching out the ears that might hear. But Knausgaard? He is not these writers; don’t go looking for them here.But if you do decide to read this book, don’t give up on it until you have proceeded deeply into Part Two, because Knausgaard, unconcerned with winning you right away, really comes to life in Part Two, when he is in closest proximity to Death. This is a death-haunted book from page one to the end, and what becomes compelling in Knausgaard’s exhaustive realism, his absolute dedication to identifying every minutiae of movement, object, sense-item in a scene, is that through his spare prose meditations (almost stone quarries of the everyday) one is forced to reckon with the thought that, because we are involuntarily immersed, from birth, in our miserable, troubled, absurd, sometimes blissful, mostly futile and selfish strivings - since this is a fate we all share, that is only consecrated by Death - then the banality of each life is sacred, and worth the telling. I believe Knausgaard is sincerely approaching his project with the idea that each life is an epic, his not excepted. I see no evidence, in this first book, to qualify the accusation of narcissism, of navel-gazing, unless we are all guilty of this when looking back over our unhappiness, our growth, our attempts at becoming human. This is not narcissism so much as it is a reckoning of self-loathing, (and there is a vital difference between the neuroses of the self that are narcissism and self-loathing) - of coming to terms with our ugly humanity on this rock on which we were washed up at birth, when we plopped out covered in blood, cold, and screaming.I am intrigued. I am at the very beginning of his project, and I’m not sold that this is literary greatness. But it is something worthy of your consideration. It might be something necessary...

  • Agnieszka
    2018-11-29 21:02

    Now that all the hype over Karl Ove Knausgård cycle is over I thought it’s time to finally meet the guy. Almost everything aboutMy struggle was already said, both bad and good stuff. The author was accused of every thing imaginable, of being ungrateful sonofbitch that fouls own nest, that he was hypocrite and megalomaniac, that he hurt own family in hope of making money, that he did it to win plaudits, that he can’t write and the book is rubbish and pure graphomania and much more like that. On the other side there were these who found the novel original, who could appreciate its simplicity, who could accept banality even, who didn’t consider that detailed report to be exhibitionistic gibberish and to that group I count myself. I thought it was painfuly honest and gritty, excruciatingly intimate family portrait.I don’t mind that kind of writing though I don’t feel it’s necessary to write about almost every cup of tea or bottle of beer or meal or shower or lighting cigarette but it didn’t feel fatiguing either. Sometimes it’s the only way to deal with horrible things. Just celebrate simple deeds. I thought Knausgård primarily was writing for and to himself and only later to the reader. And it was device to tame the fear, clear head and calm down oneself. No, it didn’t enrich me but somehow felt right. There are parts in the novel that almost knock you down and it’s hard to read them. The level of sharing every nasty detail is really high and at times feels unbearably intimate, it’s like you were some voyeuristic jerk that witnesses how Karl’s father is drinking himself to death or sees how his grandmother lives. And it’s not a pleasant sight, believe me. Powerful but not pleasant. Then again there are pieces that KOK treats us truths and reflections on life that smacks of banality. And maybe there is a key to his success. To be painfully direct and make from banality and mundaneness a method. I thought the writing was good, not especially quotable but solid and easy to follow. I found comparison to Proust rather laughable for the only thing in common is the length of the text. Knausgård operates on well-known territory and discusses basic things and emotions. He works his life out, dismantles it, speaks of growing up, love, music, uncertainty, friends, first steps towards writing career, death, parents and grandparents, hatred to father and how it felt destructive. Plain writings, pure emotions, with his heart on his sleeve. There is no place for flamboyance here. No need for extravagance. For sure going to see how it goes and how the author progesses, both in personal and professional life.

  • Jim Elkins
    2018-12-11 03:09

    This review has two postscripts. What follows is a negative review of vol. 1, which I read when it was first out in English; now "My Struggle" is famous, and subsequent volumes have attracted some reflective reviews. Thoughts on those at the end.- -It’s possible this book may be memorable. It has structural, narrative, and tonal problems that may, in the end, turn out to be strengths. I have no idea why it has gotten so many rave reviews, why it seems “like real life,” or why “the public have fallen to their knees in awe.” Of all the books over 400 pages that I’ve read in the last few years, this is the one I thought I was least likely to finish. It is volume 1 of the author’s autobiography, presented as a novel. He is an alcoholic, depressive novelist, whose father was also an alcoholic. Part One is reminiscences of his childhood; Part Two is about his father’s death and the funeral arrangements for it.Knausgaard has a habit of describing everything he sees in a kind of flat, sequential fashion, one moment to the next, as if he was a court recorder. He recounts any number of episodes that have no special interest and no connection to what happens later in the book. Here are two examples.An example of the sort of trite dialogue Knausgaard tends to record:“Hello?” I said.“Hi, it’s me.”“Hi.”“I was just wondering how things were going. Are you managing okay down there?”She sounded happy.“I don’t know. I’ve only been here a few hours,” I said.Silence.“Are you coming home soon?”“You don’t need to hassle me,” I said. “I’ll come when I come.”She didn’t answer.“Shall I buy something on the way?” I asked at length.“No I’ve done the shopping.”“Okay. See you then.”“Good. Bye. Hold on. Cocoa.”“Cocoa,” I said. “Anything else?”“No, that’s all.”“Okay. Bye.”“Bye.” (p. 194)And here is an example of dogged description, with apparently only a little nuance. He is waiting to board a plane:“The cleaning staff scurried up the bridge from the plane. The uniformed woman talked into a telephone. After putting it down she picked up a small microphone and announced the plane was ready for boarding. I opened the outside pocket of my bag and took out the ticket... A man in overalls with ear protectors walked across, he was holding those things like ping-pong rackets used to direct planes into position....” (p. 240)In another context, this sort of thing could have been like one of Perec’s experiments in description, but Knausgaard has nothing to do with OuLiPo's interests. Or it could have been a demonstration of the triviality of ordinary life, but Knausgaard isn’t at all like Kavanaugh or Larkin. Or it could have been the sort of writing that is so dependent on language that it just won’t translate; but that couldn’t be the case because there are positive reviews of a number of translations. Or it could have been done in order to find the sublime or the poignant in the everyday: but Knausgaard’s sense of dialogue is flat, and his descriptions are often rote or utilitarian. It becomes increasingly perplexing to decide just what the book is attempting, short of a total inventory of the author’s life, which is impossible partly because the author has limited recall, and partly because he is, in fact, a depressive and an alcoholic. And that possibility is, for me, what carries the book. There is a kind of dogged deliberation in “My Struggle,” as if the only way to continue is to write, and the only way to write is to write everything: but at the same time Knausgaard doesn’t record systematically; “My Struggle” isn’t rule-bound or fanatical. It’s as if he has put all the energy and concentration he has into this project, writing year after year, writing out each memory in detail, omitting nothing, inventorying his entire remaining memory, but without any sense of what a complete life might look like, or any hope of stitching the parts together.This sort of unsystematic, intermittently oblivious, partly uncaring attitude toward the obsessive compulsive project of plumbing his past produces strange effects. At first, a reader might expect that each episode will have some connection to others, or some special meaning or resonance -- as things usually work in novels. Later, when that turns out not to be the case, a reader might reasonably conclude that the author is just writing as best as he can, about whatever he can remember: and then, I think, the book really begins to flag. Knausgaard sometimes interrupts his narratives with meditations, which he apparently thinks are original or interesting; for me they usually aren’t. Only a few of the stories in Part One are interesting or unusual. Here is an example of the sort of meditation that is apparently presented as insightful:“I recognized the feeling, it was akin to the one some works of art evoke in me. Rembrandt’s portrait of himself as an old man in London’s National Gallery was such a picture, Turner’s picture of the sunset over the sea off a port of antiquity in the same museum, Caravaggio’s picture of Christ in Gethsemane. Vermeer evoked the same, a few of Claude’s paintings, some of Ruisdael’s...” (the list continues; p. 219)Knausgaard did not have an unusual childhood, and he does not describe it in an inventive way. But -- and this is why I kept reading -- there is a strange contradiction between the narrative he wants us to read and the one that emerges as I began to attend to what was going wrong with what I took to be his project of writing a raw, honest memoir.An example of the strangeness: he spends 200 pages describing his childhood, but he opens Part Two with remarks like this:“If I had forgotten something in my childhood it was probably due to repression” (given as a throwaway line, and never developed; p. 216)or“I remembered hardly anything from my childhood.” (p. 189)Weirdly, he doesn’t think it’s worth noting that it sounds odd to say that sort of thing after having spent 200 pages describing his childhood in meticulous detail. He opens the book with a story about a face he thought he’d seen in the sea, and it comes back at the opening of Part Two. But, weirdly, he does not think it is puzzling to simply mention the face, but not draw any meaning from it -- and he never returns to it again. All he gives us is one throwaway line (p. 189):“the remarkable thing was that I had forgotten it and now remembered.”And very weirdly, he does not seem to notice that a reader might expect the story of the face in the sea to be of some interest to the narrator himself. The affectless dialogue, the dull anecdotes, the supposedly trenchant mediations, the unsystematic systematicity, do create an unusual tone, and I read the book through even though I became increasingly convinced that Knausgaard is not aware of the particular grating effect that his desultory, compulsive, flat, unremitting narrative produces.- -Postscript, 2013Volume 2 is now out in English, and there are signs Knausgaard will become a major figure. At the end of 2013 Rivka Galchen named vol. 2 as the "most interesting literary development" of the year, saying it is "substantive, comical, and artistically singular." (New York Times Book Review, Sunday, December 15, p. 43.) It is singular, but it is loose, unreflective about structure, unaware of readers' plausible expectations, and relentlessly simpleminded about how the everyday has been put into prose.- -Second postscript, May 2014Volume 3 is now out in English, and it's gotten an excellent review by Ben Lerner, "Each Cornflake," London Review of Books, May 22, 2014. (I find this more convincing and clearer than the longer review by William Deresiewicz, " Why Has ‘My Struggle’ Been Anointed a Literary Masterpiece?" The Nation, May 13, 2014.)I am surprised at how widely it's being accepted that Knausgaard is a major novelist -- or, in Lerner's assessment, a largely successful anti-novelist, who is out to end the novel and literature in general by avoiding selection. (By recording everything.) As Lerner notes, that sets up a tension between the endlessness and lack of selectivity in the writing, in which the entire world spills onto the page, on the one hand, and the idea of plot, structure, or development, on the other. This is how Lerner puts it:"Of course Knausgaard does leave things out (why, I wonder, is sex described in less detail than cornflakes?), selects among scenes and sentences, but we are caught up in the fiction that he doesn’t. Yet that childish sense of open-endedness, in which everything is equally interesting, is countered by another fiction: that the meaning of 'My Struggle' will be revealed at its end, secured by the author’s death (at least his death qua author). The former fiction is a fiction of formlessness, the undifferentiated, an infinite verticality outside time; and the latter is a fiction that gives form, the imposition of shape on experience, a syntax of events. The constitutive tension of Knausgaard’s work, its internal struggle, is the push and pull between these two fictions."Here "death" stands in for the novel and literature in general, and it is a reasonable synecdoche. For me Lerner's way of putting things raises two questions, both of which cannot be definitively answered for English-language readers until the final 3 volumes are translated. The two questions are:1. Can the supposed lack of structure, choice, taste, plot, style, and skill – the things that ruined volume 1 for me – be adequately understood as a bid to escape from literature? I agree that "breaking of the vessel of art, the renunciation of fiction, literary suicide – these are fictions, and they’re the devices on which the power of 'My Struggle' depends"; but does the mass of unstructured writing actually work as an escape from fiction? 2. Can the supposed lack of structure, choice, taste, plot, style, and skill be understood as a representation of what Lerner calls "the undifferentiated mass of experience"? Can the flood of "raw" experiences, especially the uninteresting, unremarkable, everyday ones, represent experience?These are two distinct questions. The first is about strategy: can a novelist put an end to the novel by putting everything into it except the structures that would have made it literature? The second is about experience: is it "experience" that is represented in "My Struggle"? (I note that the first question is separate from the possibility, which Lerner ponders, that the book might conclude with death, and therefore conclude as literature: the question pertains to the strategy itself, not whether this 6-volume project succeeds. Apparently "My Struggle" does have an ending; is does end with "death": i.e., it has an arc, it does rehabilitate and motivate its formlessness. And apparently, too, Knausgaard has not defeated the novel, even for himself, because he has told an interviewer he is at work on another. But this first question is about strategy, not result.)My answer to both questions is no. To the first question: I am not persuaded that proposing to have laid down the nameable skills of the novelist is a strategy to avoid literature. Some Oulipean strategies do bypass some parts of literature, but this strategy is too knowing, too deliberate, and – though I recognize this won't be a popular opinion, given the many enthusiastic reviews of "My Struggle" – too easy. It's too easy to fill 6 volumes with a spew of uncurated thoughts. It's true the novel "cracks," as Knausgaard himself says ("I thought of this project as a kind of experiment in realistic prose. How far is it possible to go into detail before the novel cracks and becomes unreadable?") but that does not mean literature is left behind or even effectively critiqued. It would be as if someone tried to "ruin" the sonnet by interpolating thousands of extra lines.To the second question: the undifferentiated mass of experience supposedly rendered in "My Struggle" is itself a trope, an idea about the continuum of sensory experience that comes in part from Hume, Bergson, and de Certeau. "My Struggle" is a large-scale rehearsal of what counts, in such theories, as "raw" experience.So I doubt the project of "My Struggle": it is not an effective anti-novel, and it does not break through conventions to represent real experience. We need to begin to ask more closely why we think, as Lerner does, that "it’s amazing."- -Third postscript, April 2016.The fifth volume has just appeared. The New Yorker ran a very long excerpt online ("At the Writing Academy," March 10, 2016), which is interesting because it includes photos taken of Knausgaard when he was at the writing academy in Bergen (the subject of the opening chapters of col. 5). The inclusion of images seems careless to me: I don't know the circumstances under which they were included, but I imagine the editors at The New Yorker imagined that they would lend appropriate veracity to an account that is itself a display of apparent unfiltered neutral observation. In relation to my own study of writing with images (online, under that name), these images are thoughtless, because Knausgaard's text is persistently slightly unbelievable in its apparent neutrality and directness, but the photographs are very direct in a much simpler manner. It's also curious that volume 5 opens with Knausgaard's observation that he kept his own photographs from that period, which are not reproduced in The New Yorker excerpt. (More on volume 5 later.)

  • Nick Wellings
    2018-11-28 20:07

    For some reason, My Struggle (AKA, in the UK - 'A Death in the Family') made it into James Wood's Books of the Year 2012. Woods is, like Kakutani, a doyen of critics, and his word always carries a weight of sensitivity and intelligence gained from years of reading and teaching about literature. With Woods' nodding imprimatur bestowed upon it one would imagine the literary cachet of Knausgard's book is beyond reproach.But having read my Struggle (and boy, what a struggle) I fear for Mr. Wood's critical acumen. (I nearly wrote "I think he's lost his god-damn mind"). Woods is such a perspicacious reader that I fear somehow I've read a different My Struggle or that he's read a different one, or that I'm in a parallel universe where my struggle with my Struggle is not the same as everyone elses - everyone else having from it, like, significant insights into the human condition, deep engagement with fictionalised wisdom, harrowing journeys into grief and sadness, the soul eclipsing throes of love, the constancy and Love for family etc., the sadness of growing older, etc etc.The reason I say this, is that My Struggle Part 1 (AKA, in the UK 'A Death in the Family') was pretty damn bad. Boring bad. Pointless, bad. Why this is being compared to Proust is way beyond me. A handy way of selling more copies perhaps. All I know is that I don't think it is quite in the league of Proustian prose-majesty to reminisce how you went to the shop with your brother and bought a Lion bar and 1.5 litres of Sprite to wash it down with before spending the night watching TV getting hammered. Or wait, how you looked after your dementia-ridden grandmother for a while and on the trip to see her...you stopped off at the petrol station and bought a Bounty and had a ciggie leaning against the car. His brother calls him to say his dad has died and after they hang up he wanders to the shower and wonders whether he should "have a wank". This is hardly the realm of an enduring classic. 'War and Peace', this ain't. I truly don't think anyone will care about it in ten years time. I situate it in the "Scandanavian Cultural Renaissance" which has like some Nordic phagocyte, like the Vikings of old (but with less swords n' longboats) taken over the realms of detective novels, detective TV shows, detective movies, trendy retailing (H&M) haute-cuisine (Noma is the best restaurant in the world, say some.)Sure, they can do Volvos and cheap priced flat pack furniture but the world's eating their stuff up, and the Scans are happy. So, seeing a popularly written book about Weighty Subjects, the Scandi-media probably just saw an opportunity to make money from their native readers, and when people got reading it, it was decided to export the book by the bucketload by hyping it to the mesosphere. Notice many quotes about its Proustian might come from Scandanavian newspapers/magazines/reveiwers. Hmmmmmmmm.... Frankly the book was 400 page waste of my time, crammed full of trite observations. I would say "D minus. Could do better," but really I don't think he can. If I want to read detailed memoirs in I'll read them from someone who actually has something interesting to memoir about. Knausgard doesn't. In my defence, Wood says "even when I was bored, I was interested." at least Woods admits he was bored, and lets face it "I was interested" isn't quite "I was moved, I was edified, I was transported, I as shocked, I was touched," all those things we demand from quality fiction, but at least HE was interested. But, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe it picks up in books 2-6, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Sorry, Karl, but you'll have to struggle on without me.

  • Maxwell
    2018-11-13 20:04

    When I started reading this I had a feeling similar to when I read Elena Ferrante for the first time—the feeling that I was reading a book that would be read, possibly even studied, for years to come. I can't put my finger on what exactly it is about this one though that made me feel that way. With Ferrante it was the historical context, observant writing, and vivid characters. With Knausgård it might just be the ambition behind this series: a six-part autobiography.Nevertheless, though his writing is interspersed with poignant and cutting remarks about life, death, love, family, and other highly universal and relatable themes, there is no denying this is a boring story. And I mean that with no malice. It's boring because it's a regular man telling a regular story about his upbringing in Norway between the 1970's and 80's. He's not particularly special, and he realizes that. But he decides to tell his story anyway. And somehow it's compulsively readable. I did find myself more interested in his earlier life, and when the book changed directions about 1/3 of the way through I was a bit disappointed. I found the latter half to be too drawn out, despite his lush descriptions and insights which kept me reading till the end. That being said, I will continue with the series, I just may not be in much of a rush considering there are still about 3,000 pages to go. 3.5 stars

  • Malia
    2018-12-01 22:05

    Original review seems to have vanished..."My Struggle" is Karl Ove Knausgard's first book in the ambitious six part series, and one I had been hearing so much about in recent months that I finally decided to give it a try. As the title might suggest, this is not a comedy, so if you are struggling through a gray, bleak winter, stay well away!Knausgaard is kind of like sharp cheese. At first you think you hate it, but then it's actually not bad at all. The first half of the book, he came across as arrogant and, keeping in mind that a man who isn't even fifty is writing six books about himself, very self-indulgent. Nonetheless, even mildly irritated as I was, I had to admit that there was something about his style that made this book compulsively readable. About two thirds of the way through, something happens, "the big event" in Knausgaard's life and his voice softens. His mind turns to others and his vulnerability even as a grown, relatively successful man is exposed. It is this last third that makes me want to keep going with Knausgaard's books, though their length and number is a little daunting. Sometimes his recording of all the minutiae of his daily life and the airing of all his frustrations is a little annoying, and the setting reads like a gray-washed Scandinavian crime drama, but I suppose this is his attempt to provide an honest and transparent account of his inner and outer world. Undeniably he is a good writer, and his observations, though sometimes tediously conveyed, are often astute gems of human insight, which elevate this book from an autobiography, to a text that possesses philosophical musings and reads like a well-polished novel.Something that initially irritated me was the title, "My Struggle" is, of course, "Mein Kampf" in German. Being German, I couldn't understand why anyone would chose to give their book such a name, but reading My Struggle, it becomes clear that he in no way associates his very personal story with Hitler's disgusting book.When you read Knausgaard's story, the title does seem very apt, because he really highlights and dissects all the areas in his life that are rife with struggles.Though I think I'll read something slightly lighter next, I will definitely return for Book Two.Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  • Jim Coughenour
    2018-12-04 21:05

    For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops.I'm not sure what to say about this book except that once I started reading I kept going for the next two days. A couple nights ago the current issue of The New Yorker popped up on my iPad; I idly scrolled to the review of this book by James Wood. I read only a few sentences then called Books Inc. They had a copy. I walked over and picked it up even though it was almost 10 pm – and started reading.James Wood calls My Struggle "morbidly compelling" and that is exactly right. I finished reading his review after I'd read the book – it's excellent, one of his best – but I'm glad I waited. It's not that it contains spoilers, but Knausgård's book deserves to impress itself on its own terms, at its own deliberate unglamorous pace. It seems to be a memoir – and according to Wood, it is scandalously based on Knausgård's own life and family – but there's no way its depth of detail could be "remembered" any more than Proust's great book. I can't remember when I've read anything less joyful or one that more dangerously courts banality and boredom – but by the end I was stunned by its beauty.

  • Marcello S
    2018-11-10 23:52

    Di cosa parla alla fine Knausgård? Beh, di un sacco di cose.Gli amori adolescenziali, le prove con la band. Un padre inquieto e anaffettivo, una madre dolce e paziente. La festa di capodanno del 1985. Il quartiere residenziale e la vita di famiglia. Freddo e neve. Gli anni Settanta. Il rapporto indissolubile col fratello. I corsi di letteratura all’università e le riflessioni sull’arte. Alcool e brodaglie di caffè a fiumi. Una casa da pulire. E poi, appunto, la morte del padre, che occupa in buona parte la seconda metà del volume.Tutto memorabile? No, non direi. Ci sono i momenti noiosi, eccome. Se scrivi più di 3000 pagine divise in 6 volumi su una vita abbastanza ordinaria arrivi inevitabilmente a lungaggini e momenti infiniti che si potevano ridurre a qualche paragrafo. Però poi KOK ti ripaga sempre. E’ così diretto e sincero che ad un certo punto si trasforma in un vecchio amico che non vedevi da un po’. Uno a cui volevi bene e con cui ti va di riprendere un rapporto. E quindi ti devi sorbire, un po’ alla volta, tutti i momenti della sua vita che nel frattempo ti sei perso.E ad un certo punto capisci che da tutto questo ordinario non hai più voglia di staccarti. Che è come se qualcuno ti stesse raccontando la tua, di vita.Intervallati ai ricordi ci sono anche i momenti dell’oggi (ovvero del 2008). Knausgård scrittore e padre di famiglia. Il tempo da riservare ai figli e quello da togliere alla scrittura. Questa parte è assolutamente eccezionale, iperrealista, sei lì con lui davanti al pc con tutte le difficoltà che comporta raccontare qualcosa.Credo che nel successo di questa “saga” ci sia anche un certo voyeurismo da parte del lettore. Metterci a nudo ci spaventa sempre un po' e quando sono gli altri a farlo al posto nostro siamo lì ad approfittarne. Un po’ come spesso fa Emmanuel Carrère che inserisce nei suoi romanzi momenti della sua vita privata, con percentuali notevoli in “La vita come un romanzo russo”. E’ un libro potente, quasi da “buona la prima” come se l’importante fosse più buttare sulla carta tutto quello che c’è da raccontare nel modo meno mediato possibile piuttosto che cercare il modo migliore per dirlo.Fate conto che sarebbero quattro stelle abbondanti ma non mi pare il caso di star qui a lesinare. [80/100]

  • ΣωτήρηςΑδαμαρέτσος
    2018-11-20 19:58

    Αυτό το βιβλίο έχει ένα καλο· ακόμα και όταν το βαριέσαι, θες να μάθεις τη συνέχεια, που το πάει ο συγγραφέας! Μοιάζει με μια γραμμένη ψυχανάλυση του παρελθόντος· αλλά δεν είναι. Μοιάζει με βιογραφία· αλλά δεν είναι. Τι είναι λοιπόν; Επίσης είναι δύσκολο να παρακολουθήσεις την αφήγηση, τόσο στην εξωτερικευση των συναισθημάτων όσο και στην περιγραφή της ζωής του, αν δεν είσαι μεταξύ 35-45, δεν έχεις ζήσει μέσα '80 - αρχές' 90 ως έφηβος και έχεις ζήσει μια ζωή χωρίς εκπλήξεις. Όμως είναι τίμιος με τον αναγνώστη, δεν γράφει μια σκέτη βιογραφία, είναι πολύ προσωπικός όταν θέλει, πολύ πρωτότυπος σε αυτό που γράφει... Δεν μπορώ να τον κατατάξω κάπου - κι αυτό είναι καλό!Σίγουρα θα διαβάσω την συνέχεια, περισσότερο από απορία για το τρόπο της εσωτερικής του σκέψης πάνω στις καταστάσεις και την προσπάθεια ψυχαναλυτικής προσέγγισης των ανθρωπίνων στιγμών του. Σε ιντριγκαρει να είσαι περίεργος! Σαν να κοιτάς από την κλειδαροτρυπα της ζωής του κατόπιν δικής του προ(σ) κλησης...

  • Trish
    2018-11-17 02:47

    I hadn’t really thought to read this despite it being “the” book of 2012, but I read the article he wrote for the March 1, 2015 NYT Sunday magazine, Part I(!) It was the funniest thing I’d ever read. Here is an author whose linked novel/memoirs has taken the literary world by storm and he is showing his utter unpreparedness for that world and the interactions it requires. I wanted to see if that tongue-in-cheek droll self-awareness was his constant subject. As it turns out, his six-volume memoir cum fiction is much more than that. It has a vibrancy, truth-telling honesty, and relevance far beyond anything I expected. And the writing…well, the writing was involving and exacting…and addictive. For a man who doesn’t like to talk to strangers, he does an awful lot of talking to strangers. My Struggle Volume I begins with a discussion about death and how the dead have been removed from our purview, we lucky ones in the Western world who do not experience street conflict. This is precisely the thing I have been mulling over lately, so he drew me in with his talk of death rather than put me off. Without even a pause or a section break from our dip into death’s icy waters in the first pages, Knausgaard relates a news event in his childhood he watched on television, in which some newscasters showed the waters of a fjord, explaining that some Nordic fishermen were lost on a ship that sunk without a trace. His parents had laughed at his eight-years-old imagination that he had seen a face in the waves on the newscaster’s film shot. He returns to that humiliation again and again as he grows older, for the sense of having seen something and the shame of having been laughed at never leave him. There is a circular momentum to his narrative (a circling-the-drain quality, all facetiousness aside), for he returns to the death of his father in the second half of Volume One. But first we learn his age (39 years), and learn of his marriage, his children, his attempt to create something important, circling back to begin at the beginning, his birth and childhood. Knausgaard as a teen is not to be missed. The second half of the book is consumed with his father’s death, which occurred just before he turned thirty. When viewing his father's corpse he writes: "The idea that I could scrutinize this face unhindered for the first time was almost unbearable." Unhindered? What a remarkable thing to say. But, he goes on to say, "I was no longer looking at a person but something that resembled a person." His father, with all his personality, strengths and failures, was gone.The very ordinariness of his days, and of his detail about those days makes the novel/memoir something extraordinary. Knausgaard says in a Paris Review interview that he was trying to get the detail "as close to life as possible," so we shouldn’t feel surprised to experience a palpable peristalsis of boredom followed by intense interest and inescapable need. The interminable house cleaning and grass mowing…we feel those details in our exhaustion, repugnance, and need to escape. The accretion of detail, the structure, the language…all of it add up to something impossible to put down and impossible to forget. "But as anyone with the least knowledge of literature and writing—maybe art in general—will know, concealing what is shameful to you will never lead to anything of value."--Paris Review interviewKarl Ove, the narrator, shows us how he is his father’s son. He claimed to hate his father, but he loved him, too, and was more like him in his reserve than he dares mention. But we see it. We don’t get a clear or complete picture of his father--his father as son, his father as husband, as teacher, as neighbor--but the moments of his tenderness and of his decline flash from the book like beacons. "But still, there is much more to a relationship than what you can say. You just take one more step back into yourself. I’ve never understood psychoanalysis. Mentioning things doesn’t change anything, doesn’t help anything, it’s just words. There is something much more deep and profound to a relationship than that. Revealing stories and quarrels—that’s just words. Love, that’s something else."--Paris Review interviewObserving Knausgaard’s intense reluctance to self-reveal in ordinary day-to-day interactions and conversation, one has to ask why Knausgaard wrote a book like this. The answer comes in a thousand ways, but it revolves around the breaking of accepted patterns, of standing outside so as to observe and understand more deeply, of the spaces between things, like language…what it doesn’t describe, what it can’t catch. He seeks to make an experience, rather than just describe one. "Writing is more about destroying than creating." Well, he’s done something provocative here, and it is absolutely an experience reading this book.

  • Stephen P
    2018-11-09 22:07

    Past the delicatessen I stopped at the shop window surrounded by the mob. Shouldering and pushing I made my way near the front. Standing near someone wearing too much perfume and someone not enough I located myself close by to see the desk, red writing blotter, the mirror attached across from him and the stack of books on the far side by the crook of his elbow. A store employee arrived with a clean glass ashtray. A cigarette dangled from the writers stained lips, yellowed teeth. Fingertips also yellowed squashed the newly lit cigarette into the ashtray smoldering out any lapsed embers or future glinted glow. Handsome, he ran his hands through sandy thick hair, twice. As before, then before that he crumpled the page and tossed it into the waiting garbage can. The crowd groaned physically, vocally. Gathered together in growing number they waited for hours, some arriving the evening before, to watch the writer write, watch him finish with an expected flourish the final line of the next to last edition of his multi-book project about his life. Though many expert opinions offered no one said with certainty whether this stack and its slight wobble might be autobiography or fiction. They watched the awkward snatches of blue pen skitter across the the page laid before him. He lit another cigarette. It clouded the mirror and his reflection. He tried not to glance at the faces lunging above shoulders on the other side of the plate glass. The crowd did not yell out on the minutia of his life as his insecurities did. Sometimes they hollered what they wanted him to write, what they wanted to hear, or see on the page. Hand to forehead he twisted as their words became inseparable from his own. Crumbled papers and a splitting headache he asked for a drink. The limit not yet reached he sipped then took a deep gulp. Some one laughed. But there it was. He reached out a hand and grasped it. Holding it gently to not injure a wing with his other hand he scribbled quick. Half standing he dotted it. Sitting he snapped the brown binder in place and pushed it beneath the stack of books on his left. The crowd broke out in growing applause. Only then they spotted the bleed, its slow drip and shuddered hiss. Standing, he lit another cigarette and left.Just what I needed. One more lapsed memoir about someone who believes their walk around their block is filled with immense meaning. This ongoing shift leading to the streak of memoirs clogging the book market sending out the message, if you want to be published this is the way to go, and if you want to be somebody this is what to read. The saddest outcome is mistaking narcissism for originality. Three thousand six hundred pages. Seven volumes describing details of daily ordinary life .A punishment I didn't believe I deserved despite the rave reviews and awards, sales internationally going wild, interviews in what seemed like on a weekly if not daily basis. Could my cynicism overcome such overwhelming proof of an achievement in literature? Of course it could. Years of practice has made me a polished cynic. Yet, I argued with myself, at least give it, him, a chance. Then move on. Write about the experience. I think most of us on GR have been through something like this and it would be a good thing to discuss.Bookworm seemed the natural place to begin and with Michael Silverblatt interviewing skills probably end. Silverblatt has been a Reader since the age of five and has continued, due to a sincere interest since. He not only reads the book he will be talking with the author about, all of the author's other work but also, the works of the author's main influences. He knows the author's work possibly better than the author. The real reward of his show is that he speaks with the author, asks questions, as a Reader not a critic. Asking all the questions I would ask he goes further asking questions I did not think of but was very glad I got to listen to.The man interviewed spoke in a hesitant, shy, deprecating way. He was clearly sincere in a manner where it would not be possible for him to be otherwise. Despite this being probably around his eight hundred and fifty fourth interview he weighed each question with a deep thoughtfulness caring about the accuracy of his simple, clear words. As much as I searched, damn it, I was not able to find a shred of self promotion. What a disappointment this guy was. So, I opened My Struggle 1 and began reading.Starting on the first page of over five hundred pages he sounded just as he did during the interview. He wrote as himself. The trick is the ease of the words, airy as thoughts, surfaced currents impregnated not with beauty which might weight it down but with metaphoric precision, meaning, there to be taken or disregarded. The purity of the flow asks no demands. The entryway in is unguarded. No posted signs or uniformed guards. It requires no ID or mention of your name, for you no longer exist. It is a talisman for the opening unto oneself, feelings left un-dusted in a heap lapsed into the darkness of an unvisited corner. The reader is invited to join him with their own struggles and daunting regime hidden beneath their life regimen. The ease-in occurs before awareness. One is already there. The force of the opening of his consciousness results in the opening of ones own. The simplicity, sincerity of reporting is an invitation.My Struggle is an evocative strain of fiction alchemised in a unique brew with autobiography. By mixing these powerful elements Knausgaard has created a riveting world anchored in the specifics of its own telling. It is a world that indeed attracts due to its simplicity of style yet its underbelly of the universal which all, to differing degrees, can relate too. It is told in the 1st person by a narrator who is apart from all, from himself, vulnerable, and sincerely seeking meaning from the indifference of the ordinary. Deeply aware of his shortcomings they are recorded, voiced in similar details as the rest of his life. Somber in its Nordic outlines of dark skies and landscapes as though drained by Knausgaard's withdrawal, he continuously searched for if there was any meaning to his life or was he a trespasser, uninvited? This style is not representative of a movement within the current literary world enforced and swayed by cultural phenomena. It is so personal, such an open invitation within one character, one writer's mind that it remains and rightfully so as exclusive of all attempts and posturings of classification, representation, or referencing. As such I do not agree with comparisons to Proust. Knausgaard's past, though vividly recalled remains an obstacle to overcome, a haunted wall which must be scaled. Again, comparisons only miss the highly charged personal experience of a reading unlike any previous terms of reading. The distance has been removed. There is no sheathe of paper. What he saw in the past plummeting by no longer had any meaning, drained of all importance, the past receding rather than as a structure of ceding relevant data to be learned from.What if one is born or through cultural forces one is not endeared at all to the acquisition of goods, the accumulation of wealth, the rush for fame and status, (Books published, important prizes won)? What others are interested in has no value or interest for you? Yet, you have a wife and children you love. Their activities pull you into that world and its social intercourse and activities. You're daily life when not writing, and there is less time for that, is like for everyone else filled with the ordinary and uninteresting. Without meaning what does one do, create myths and form a meaning buried in cliches, stale ends of loaves of bread tossed by political, religious leaders, and reinforced by the resigned backslapping and in-jokes? Knausgaard's answer is to flip the ordinary over, from it birth the meaning that lay hidden there. In his vulnerable, doubting, self-deflecting, voice, each daily event we all know so well, he ties to crack a seam and excavate what meaning he can find. The purity of his openness, its casual innocence, never calls attention to itself.I read. I cannot do otherwise, He must, through the intricacies of awareness attach himself to objects and landscapes, not only as rhythmic device but to keep self tethered to existence and not float away. His struggle to stay within the present and not allow the past which is threatened by father's death and grandmother's condition, the condition of the house, the cutting of the overgrown garden and lawn. He is going through what most of us are going or have gone through. Yet, few of us would speak its name or report its intricacies of destruction, despair. He must be with others or an other but do to no fault of his own is not a candidate. Attempts lead only to further despair and an inner drive to disown who he is inside which constitutes his alienation preventing any true connection. He can douse the inner searing with ritual dosings of alcohol and fraternization, avoiding the costs of being left alone with his lengthening existential fears.His struggles begin with no reflection of himself back from his disinterested parents, leaving no sense of self but shame. His parents separation, divorce becomes a tragedy as does his father's changes and mother's prolonged absences. As with any child who encounters life's blasphemies at an age before being equipped to face or handle them Knausgaard begins to see the fragility of life, draws the origins and destinations of the messages life sends forth. Seeing through pretensions, while what all other children want to do is play, he is cornered with thoughts piling in his mind, trying to abstract meaning from all he sees and hears. Alienating him from others he clings to his older brother. His response to being so different from others who have been given the freedom to play, to grow up, graduate from school, marry and have a normal family life following happily the rituals and conventions of their culture. He is envious. Self castigating. Doubtful. He would like to believe that the objects and events of life are real in and of themselves-the receiver having little to do with their existence, opposite from his older brother. Most of what he says can be in some way interpreted, seen as metaphoric or simply as events which have taken place. What he mines for is meaning. His gear is sparse compacted sentences. The ceaseless, breathless tension will not stop. The identification with the narrator is ongoing, his searchings, strivings. The narrative is and will be endless. And that is fine. I have a complete faith that when I reach the last few final pages of this edition others will appear in their order to replace them. What? You say six more? Bring them on. This so far is a world calling and easily slipped into. Like the Seinfeld television show, a show about nothing, this book seems like reading about nothing. It does not ask for intermissions to halt and interpret layers of beautific metaphor or poetic prose rising to ethereal level, yet it is quite clear he knows how to write and write well. It is only after, that ideas and images haunt. We are watching ourselves, the self we don't quite know or dare to be, the non-hero rejecting the hypocrisy of his culture while trying to survive within it. Young Karl-Ove already walking through his town's life ravaged by a grave scarred mark. He has no idea of how it came there but desperately wants it hidden from others. If only…If only he could be like them. If only reason and thought can provide at least clues to where meaning lurks and not an endless circle providing us with witless illusions of a form of progress. A dead end. He is on a quest and I am rooting for him. It is not a simple quest tale. It is the all encompassing quest, yet so simply told. It is parceled out in such a way we can all read it and so many do. Over five hundred pages and not quite enough.I thank GR Friend Lee for his kind persistence in giving this book its due value, persisting in his recommendation that I read it despite my hesitancy and reservations.I am not equipped to rate this book since there are no others written in its vein. All I can do is rate my enjoyment which is a 4.5/5.0

  • Chris_P
    2018-12-10 00:04

    Karl Ove Knausgård - A Death in the Family (My Struggle #1)The only reason I could actually put it down and didn't finish it earlier was because my free time was limited over the last few days. A fact which raises a certain little question: who the fuck are you, Karl Ove Knausgård, and how on earth did you make me give a damn about the tiny little details that your past consists of?Knausgård can write. He would captivate you even if he wrote about washing the dishes or picking the right fish at the market, which he does extensively as a matter of fact. That, however, doesn't quite answer the above question. What does answer it is the fact that A Death in the Family is utterly and painfully real. He looks the reader straight in the eyes and speaks a truth that hurts. A truth that reflects the reader's truth and tears down all excuses and all the sorrowful lies, bringing forth everything that makes us who we are. I haven't related so much with a stranger's truth before (strange as it may be since there aren't really any similarities between my past and his) and it was something that caught me off guard, but it was also what allowed me to steal a small bit of his bravery and see my worn out self in there. When I was halfway through, I looked him up and watched some of his interviews and what I saw was this modest guy who doesn't seem to take success very seriously, but at the same time seems to be in balance with who he is and what he's done. He speaks softly and has a certain kindness in his attitude which, when combined with all the faults that he admits to, makes it hard not to feel sympathy for him. When one stands right in front of his shameful acts and confronts them with such honesty, one deserves all the understanding you can give. His truths are human, and because of that, they're universal. They're my truths and yours.I think that pretty much sums up why A Death in the Family is so close to being a masterpiece and why I can't wait to see how it continues.

  • Lee
    2018-11-13 21:50

    Within a week of each other my mother and a grad school friend recommended this to me, both calling it "up my alley," maybe because it's a literary autobiography unafraid of piling on detail and ripping off pages of dense, insightful exposition. I hadn't seen the James Wood review in The New Yorker (didn't skim it until after I wrote a draft of this review), but I've long been a lover of the look and feel of Archipelago's books and I'm an Anselm Keifer fan (there's a Keifer on the cover). Fiction is fact selected, arranged, and charged with purpose, said Thomas Wolfe, but Knausgaard's acknowledged precedent is Proust. Narrator admits to gulping Proust down before writing this novel, memoir, "roman," something that maintains the circuituous structure but swaps out the velveteen serpentine suffusions for something cleaner, starker, heteronormative, and involuntarily cathartic more than ecstatic -- none of which mean it's better than Proust, just comparing the two because Proust is the archetype, the way some bands derive from The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zep, and others from Kraftwerk. A pretty clear division between scene and summary (exposition): pages of always welcomed dense/deep exposition (usually about death, although at first about parenthood) followed by pages of scenes (sometimes with quick little refreshing streams of sparsely attributed dialogue). The exposition I loved whereas the scenes, especially in the first part, I only admired -- or maybe I overrelated to the first section involving his adolescence? Teenage dudes driving around looking to drink, playing guitar (I loved how my electric guitar case smelled), crappy bands playing outside to no one (my college band once played outside to four of our friends), lusting, making out, varieties of -- to my mind -- overly common experience that may account for why I've never really written about my teen years, have always pushahed them, deemed them necessarily stoned more than beautiful, and therefore unworthy. But Knausgaard seemed to approve those years, those experiences, and shows how to go about it as long as -- as in Proust -- teen/childhood talk is filtered through a mature narrator's recollections. That depth, that distance, seems necessary in part to evade accusations of YA-ness from fuckheads like me. Something else I loved: things are detailed at times to the point of what Frank Conroy called "abject naturalism": comprehensive minute detailing of minor movements, especially washing dishes or setting a table or other rote physical actions. Here, such naturalism is less abject than the object, its point, a cataloguing of momentary forms, like monumental skyscapes at sunset, momentary, meaningless, lacking secret codes to crack, glanced at, deemed beautiful, that's it -- appreciated but so common they're taken for granted. "The veranda, the plastic bottles, the light in the neighbor's windows . . . The gutter and the rainwater still running down it into the grass. I could not grasp that he wouldn't see any more of this, however hard I tried." There's something steely about the narrator no matter how often he, like water from a rock, breaks into tears. Things are clear and rational and yet move unpredictably -- nonlinear layering of the story gives it more depth. It feels absolutely real and reading it enhanced perception of life around at least one reader. Also, when they inevitably round up the post-irony novels that have come since DFW's prediction in the famous TV essay about Leyner, Knausgaard will be mentioned. He's sincere without being stupid about it, without feeling like he's restraining a natural instinct to entertain or humor. Loved the bit, after he talks with his wife on the phone and they both say how much they miss and love each other, how he gets some things at a convenience store and wants to sleep with the chubby Iraqi or Iranian girl who won't look up at him. It's very well-done, understated, its significance not overexplicated with exposition, plus it suggests issues that might arise in later volumes. Throughout, its naturalism feels natural, like literature more than contemporary literary fiction that adheres to the rules of its genre and thereby so often for me feels unreal, like a story, like fiction. 4.5 stars for me -- I'll definitely read the next five or so volumes as they come out and maybe revisit this rating if moved to do so. I'm sure this will stick with me. A half-star off since it was a bit of a slog midway before the second half when the aftermath of the father's death started up -- but I also had trouble finding time to sit down for consistent stretches, plus it's too cold and windy to walk and read at lunch or to/fro work. One thing of note: when I did walk around at lunch and read this, it was fun to think that a few folks might have thought I was reading a fancy new translation of "Mein Kampf." That suggestion/juxtaposition is pretty audacious/rad since it adds heft to the minor details throughout -- reminds me a little of the early Kiefer photos (late '60s) of the artist giving the Heil Hitler while standing in a bathtub filled with toy boats, in front of the ocean, or alone in a field? The author's struggle is artistic, emotional, personal if not solitary (ie, familial), literally and figuratively cleaning the mess others have made in life, dealing with the memory of his father now that the narrator himself is a father of three. Not a depressing book since it's filled with life, even if it's mostly about death. Minimal talk of fjords, too, although the word definitely appears.(If interested, here are my reviews of Books Two, Three, Four, and Five.)

  • Kevin Kelsey
    2018-11-26 23:07

    Posted at Heradas ReviewMemoirs are fascinating to me, because we know how truly fallible memory is. It is demonstrably unreliable. It’s completely insane that eyewitnesses and line-ups are such a fundamental part of our criminal justice system. But the cool thing about memoirs is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s a legitimate telling of events or not. I think that David Shields said it best in his book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto: “Memoir is a genre in need of an informed readership. It’s a misunderstanding to read a memoir as though the writer owes the reader the same record of literal accuracy that is owed in newspaper reporting. Memoirs belong to the category of literature, not journalism. What the memoirist owes the reader is the ability to persuade him or her that the narrator is trying, as honestly as possible, to get to the bottom of the experience at hand.”This is literature, it’s a story, it has characters, etc but for Knausgård it’s all about form: "For several years I had tried to write about my father, but had gotten nowhere, probably because the subject was too close to my life, and thus not so easy to force into another form, which of course is a prerequisite for literature. That is its sole law: everything has to submit to form. If any of literature's other elements are stronger than form, such as style, plot, theme, if any of these overtake form, the result suffers. That is why writers with a strong style often write bad books. That is also why writers with strong themes so often write bad books. Strong themes and styles have to be broken down before literature can come into being. It is this breaking down that is called 'writing.' Writing is more about destroying than creating."The characters have the same names as real people, and the story is based around Knausgård’s recollection of events, however accurate/inaccurate they may be, but these events, and this story was broken down and rebuilt to serve the form of literature. And it is really, really good stuff. It took about 20-30 pages until the prose clicked for me, and then it became difficult to put down. I found myself coming back to it again and again, "Oh, I'll just read another page or two while I'm waiting for such-and-such."I think it's something to do with the method that Knausgård uses to jump around in his story. He'll write toward an event, we know what the event is, we know that it's important. And then the Karl Ove 'character' in the story will think back to something, and we're instantly back with him, experiencing a different event. We eventually forget that we're in the past-past, and that's right when he goes back to just before that event that's coming up. The story progresses with some forward trajectory, but skips right over the event, to 20 years later, and he describes the room in which he's sitting writing his second novel. Its marvelous.The story itself is simple, brutally honest, and relatable. It's also very foreign for me, having known very little about life in Norway until this small glimpse has expanded my knowledge slightly. It's the first thing I've read that I would count as both literature, and a comfortable, easy read.

  • Bill
    2018-11-26 21:00

    this book is purportedly fiction, as evidenced by the fact that it won several european prizes for fiction. however, it seems like pretty much straight autobiography to me.i mean the main character has the author's name, he was born in norway and moved to sweden, as did the author. he has a wife and three children, as does the author. at one point in the book, he describes the picture on the cover of his first novel, which was designed by his brother, so i checked and sure enough it really is the picture on his first novel.anyway, all of this is academic. fiction or autobiography, the book contains some of the most beautiful writing i have ever read. i just got book 2 in the mail today, and there are still 4 more volumes to come after that. i can't wait.if you like excellent writing, you should really read this. highly recommended.i will be starting book 2 soon!

  • Jessica
    2018-11-13 00:55

    I spent a lot of time, especially at the beginning of this, wondering about why I personally swear to hate memoir, but then go ahead and fall in love with these autobiographical novels. I worry there's something vaguely misogynistic about this, since I tend (rightly or wrongly) to think of memoirists as mostly female and navel-gazey novelists as mostly male... And isn't the difference mostly just one of packaging? Maybe, maybe not. I think I take the point of a memoir to be a memoirist's personal story, while the autobiographical novel seems somehow to be more about the novel itself, about a form that happens to be drawing on life events as material to structure itself... But that's a pretty arbitrary and flimsy and maybe spurious distinction.In any case, I maintain that I don't like memoir, but I really loved this.When we think about our lives as we've lived them so far, there's a necessary compression and flattening of all those years, because we can't possibly keep data on every moment and person and location and event. The result is something like going all the way out on google maps, and what Knausgård does is zoom in, all the way in, much closer than google maps can do so that it's way more like that short film Cosmic Zoom I remember being shown as a kid at the Pacific Film Archive in the eighties, where there's a kid in a rowboat and you go all the way out into outer space and also all the way into the kid's blood that's being sucked by a mosquito and then down the molecular level then out again to the middle. Except in My Struggle the zooming in has to do with times in the protagonist's life and is being maneuvered in a much more complex and sophisticated way than just the in-and-out axis.Knausgård ends up narrating these pieces of time from various points of life in such detail it's as if they're being perfectly recalled, or more as if they're being actually relived. Many reviewers on here have parodied the style as ludicrously detailed and dull or have noted the book's reveling in banality, but this isn't how I experienced it at all. Though of course I can see how it should have bored me to read sentences like this one (chosen at random) -- "I got up, grabbed the orange peel, went into the kitchen, where Mom was scrubbing potatoes, opened the cupboard beside her and dropped the peel in the wastebasket, watched Dad walk across the drive, running a hand through his hair in that characteristic way of his, after which I went up to my room, closed the door behind me, put on a record, and lay down on my bed again" -- it didn't at all.What it did do was force my own memory into a different track than the one it's been idling on for years. I read most of this in small chunks while up at all hours of the night nursing an infant, which might have contributed, but I found myself putting down the book while I was mentally rushed back to pieces of my childhood I haven't revisited in decades. In provoking this, My Struggle reminded me what another writer wrote years ago, that his readers "would not be my readers but readers of themselves, my book serving merely as a sort of magnifying glass, such as the optician of Combray used to offer to a customer, so that through my book I would give them the means of reading in their own selves." And being self-obsessed (as many of us are), that's one of my main impulses that drives me when I pick up a novel: to understand or at least view in a new way my own experiences.But the other main impulse -- probably stronger -- that drives me to read is that being self-loathing (as many of us are), I long to escape from being who I am and to inhabit someone else for a change, even (maybe especially) if that someone else is at least as self-loathing as me. And Knausgård succeeded wildly on this account too, because while reading this I really felt I lived inside Karl Ove Knausgård's consciousness and life, instead of my own, which I enjoyed for many reasons, not least of which because he is an exotic Norwegian.And I'm pretty sure I've never read a book by a Norwegian before! I know almost nothing about Norway other than that they are oil-rich Scandinavians and I vaguely sense they are gloomier and more solemn than their archnemeses the Swedes. This book confirmed my limited stereotypes about Norway in that there was a lot of gross-sounding fish being eaten, everyone's name was thrillingly unpronounceable, and each time Karl Ove looked out a window he seemed to peer down on a fjord (really! There were SO MANY fjords in this book). However, the protagonist did not listen to death metal, but to much more palatable fare, demonstrating that the strange is familiar once you get to know it, and we are all but a part of the family of man.Okay, I'm not doing a good job of explaining what this book is or why everyone just loves it so much, but that information is available in plenty of other places. Here is Knausgård describing what his writing does much better than I can:The sounds here were new and unfamiliar to me, the same was true of the rhythm in which they surfaced, but I would soon get used to them, to such an extent that they would fade into the background again. You know too little and it doesn't exist. You know too much and it doesn't exist. Writing is drawing the essence of what we know out of the shadows. That is what writing is about. Not what happens there, not what actions are played out there, but the there itself. (190)THAT'S REALLY GOOD.And here he is describing with horrifying clarity what it's like to drink in a seemingly nihilistic fashion:My drunkenness was not brought to a halt by sleep or problems of coordination, but simply continued into the beyond, the primitive, and the void. I loved it, I loved the feeling, it was my favorite feeling, but it never led to anything good, and the day after, or the days after, it was as closely associated with boundless excess as with stupidity, which I hated with a passion. But when I was in that state, the future did not exist, nor the past, only the moment and that was why I wanted to be in it so much, for my world, in all its unbearable banality, was radiant. (390)While I jotted down several page numbers of great passages (something I don't normally do when I read), I can't quote the part of this book where I came to understand why he chose this particularly striking title. Maybe that part comes in one of the eleventy-million other volumes that follow, volumes that I'm not sure I'll get through, though I'll at least check out the second. I did find this article that shed some light, for those wondering: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-t...Anyway. I'm sure many people would hate this, because it does have a very distinctive style that could be experienced as aspergily overdetailed and dull. The story, such as it is, concerns our hero Karl Ove Knausgård growing up in a Norwegian suburb in the seventies with a somewhat terrifying father, then returning to this suburb at the age of thirty after said father has drunk himself to death. Sounds like a truly dreadful memoir, to be sure, but as an autobiographical novel it was great.

  • Ken
    2018-11-25 19:59

    It is said that this book is a modern rendition of Proust's Remembrances, making me an untrustworthy narrator for this review as I've never read the French giant's magnum opus of life's minutiae. Yes, I have Lydia Davis's new translation of Proust, but no, I haven't mustered the courage -- yet. Reading Knaussgard's book won't help. Rather than inspire me to read Proust, it inspires me to read My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love, just released. Such is life.If plot's the thing, this 440-pager is probably not your best choice. Knausgard is one of those characterization writers who gives every detail of every action. He's more into "exploding the moment," as they say in writing class, than "shrinking a century." The book shares traits with Petterson's Out Stealing Horses: a strong father-son theme, a strong coming-of-age theme, a distinct 70s flavor, and, what I like, a heavy dose of sensitivity and just noticing things. Like death. Our young protagonist is rather obsessed with it, and the book opens with a worthy "essay" on the subject (you will find others along the way as you read). Death, Knausgard notes, is just a concept -- one we are happy to discuss and expose ourselves to in reading or movie-viewing -- but make it REAL (that is, find a dead body on your front lawn or consider your own mortality when something goes wrong with your ticker) and it's a whole other matter. We are all fascinated with death -- our own -- and when we run into the real thing with, say, members of our family, we as a society like to keep it hidden, out of sight. In a word: Eew.Very modern of us, isn't it? I don't think it was always so. Dead bodies used to become part of the living room furniture for wakes and such once upon a time. And people died in their own homes, as a rule, or out of doors, wherever the Reaper took his harvest. Not much different from road kill, I guess. And certainly no nonsense such as dying in hospitals and special homes for the dying (read: hospices). That would come with capitalism. Death as economic driver. Back then it was just a case of "death happens -- to squirrels and people. Let's move on." In any event, Knausgard has clearly given it a lot of thought, and you may enjoy his thoughts, too, because I happen to know that you have given mortality some meditation yourself. No one casts a spell like the Grim One.But really, there's a lot of joyfully dumb adolescence to this first of a projected 6-book series, too. Young Karl Ove is finding his way -- with friends, with girls, with alcohol, with rock n roll, with books, with his own soul. He's the kind of sensitive loner most of us bookish, introspective introverts can identify with. Thus, the attention the book has drawn. Thus, the fact that I discovered it via the New York Times ravings. Is it THAT good? A classic to be? Please. But it's a great way to spend a slice of summer, I'll tell you, and after breaking for a few must-reviews of ARC's, I'll be back to Book Two to take in Karl Ove's further adventures in Scandinavia (land that I love -- I can write that, right? It's the FIFTH of July and all patriotic obligations have expired).Recommended to fans of meandering, philosophical coming-of-age tomes -- and Norway. I know you're out there....

  • Malia
    2018-11-11 20:47

    "My Struggle" is Karl Ove Knausgaard's first book in the ambitious six part series, and one I had been hearing so much about in recent months that I finally decided to give it a try. As the title might suggest, this is not a comedy, so if you are struggling through a gray, bleak winter, stay well away!Knausgaard is kind of like sharp cheese. At first you think you hate it, but then it's actually not bad at all. The first half of the book, he came across as arrogant and, keeping in mind that a man who isn't even fifty is writing six books about himself, very self-indulgent. Nonetheless, even mildly irritated as I was, I had to admit that there was something about his style that made this book compulsively readable. About two thirds of the way through, something happens, "the big event" in Knausegaard's life and his voice softens. His mind turns to others and his vulnerability even as a grown, relatively successful man is exposed. It is this last third that makes me want to keep going with Knausegaard's books, though their length and number is a little daunting. Sometimes his recording of all the minutiae of his daily life and the airing of all his frustrations is a little annoying, and the setting reads like a gray-washed Scandinavian crime drama, but I suppose this is his attempt to provide an honest and transparent account of his inner and outer world. Undeniably he is a good writer, and his observations, though sometimes tediously conveyed, are often astute gems of human insight, which elevate this book from an autobiography, to a text that possesses philosophical musings and reads like a well-polished novel.Something that initially irritated me was the title, "My Struggle" is, of course, "Mein Kampf" in German. Being German, I couldn't understand why anyone would chose to give their book such a name, but reading My Struggle, it becomes clear that he in no way associates his very personal story with Hitler's disgusting book.When you read Knausegaard's story, the title does seem very apt, because he really highlights and dissects all the areas in his life that are rife with struggles. Though I think I'll read something slightly lighter next, I will definitely return for Book Two.Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  • Nora Barnacle
    2018-11-30 00:50

    Ili sam ja sasvim mimo sveta, ili je po sredi nešto drugo, no, većina od onoga što diljem interneta prikazuje Knausgorovu „Moju borbu“ nema veze sa mojim doživljajem ove knjige. Prvo začuđenje me strefilo kad sam videla koliko uopšte ima tih prikaza na srpskom! Da se razumemo pričam o broju manjem od 7 - 8, što nije zavredelo ni velikomučeno lektirstvo Ane Karenjine, a ni velikomučno (bez e!)... šta god... one baka Palčice što nije Hrebeljanović ko Lazar, nego ono nešto slično, a što joj se knjige zovu „Živela Sveta Petka“ ili nešto slično.Skoro da bih pomislila da su sva ta napisanija plaćeni oglasi, da je plaćanje bilo čega što ima dodirnih tačaka sa kulturom u Srbiji uopšte – dopustivo! Zaključiću, dakle, da se prašina digla sa realnih osnova. I ostaću pri pretpostavci da sam mimo sveta, tj. da to što ističu kao veličinu ovog romana ne smatram velikim. Ovako se meni čini:Najpre, Prust: budalaština iz više perspektiva je to poređenje. Sve i da je marketiški potez, ne vidim mu smisao, jer Knausgor i Prust imaju veze taman koliko Markiz de Sad i Džejmi Oliver – ta, obojica su posvećena nekakvim telesnim zadovoljstvima, već prema volji. Prustov i Knausgorov čitalac mogu biti ista osoba – kao što i sadisti, izvesno, nešto jedu. U tom smislu, ne razumem šta je marketing menadžer hteo kasti tom oksimoronskom konstrukcijom „skandinavski Prust“. (Prust može biti samo Francuz, pobogu!)Da, Knausgor je deskriptivan. Da, ta mu je sposobnost dostojna zavisti i Božanstva skribomanije lično, ali tu svaka veza sa Prustom prestaje. Dalje, ništa manje besmisleni komentari „remek delo“, „već imamo najvećeg pisca veka“ „po značaju prevazilazi književne okvire“ i tako redom. Alo, bre, fanovi Malog Princa, aj' malo na odeljenje za odrasle. Za početak samo razgledajte.Najzad „ pisac je izveo samog sebe pred Strašni sud“ „surovo iskrena ispovest “, „monumentalna autobiografija“ trt mrt.Što bi mene, čitaoca, za sve to bilo briga? Hamlet je Šekspir lično, pa? Ili nije? Opet lepo. Ginter Gras je Oskar? Dobro, važi. Šta sad da radim s tim saznanjem?Ono sa paljenjem cele police sa slovom K u knjižari je simpa marketinška fora. 'Ajd', neka bude i ono sa razvodom i demaršom iz familije semena i plemena. U knjizi nisam našla ozbiljne povode za takve postupke, ali, kako vidim da deca i dalje rastu iako jedu Plazma keks (koji te „Ne pušta da odrasteš“, kazao bilbord), shvatam da u promocijama sme da se lažucka.„Moja borba“ je roman koji je napisao pristojno obrazovan čovek, naglašeno senzibilian, izrazito introvertan, prilično vešt, pismen kako i priliči nekome ko se pera laća. I to je to. Takav mu je i roman – pristojan, zadovoljavajući, čitljiv, zaslužuje popularnost koju je, izgleda, i stekao i ništa preko toga. A šta više treba? Sve pošteno, zavredelo da se mušterija ponovo vrati i kupi još nešto u toj radnji. Slike su mu jasne, jezik jednostavno lep, emocije bistre. Ne urla, ne cereka se, ne cmizdi (čak i kad nekontrolisano briznjava u plač svako malo na dobranih 200 strana), ne patetiše, ne drami, ne pretenduje na celomudrenije i visokoparnost. Gleda i priča o svemu (baš svemu) što vidi, kako on vidi. Ček je pristojno i uokvirio te slike, te ne pretenduje ni na nekakvu „vrtoglavu“ formu koju recenzije spominju. Knausgor je idealan tip za komšiju sa trećeg koji ne smara ispred lifta, ali je uvek kaže neku zanimljivost kad dođe po dve kašičice kafe: il' je gledao neki dokumentarac o amazonskom plemenu koje piše na aramejskom, il' je na e bay-u kupio neko čudno sokoćalo, il' će od ponedeljka da krene na mačevanje. A sve to iz zdrave radoznalosti, nikako iz ne– znam – šta – ću – od– sebe. Idealno vreme za „Moju borbu“ je onih nekoliko dana posle 1. januara, kad se u pidžami šeta od frižidera do daljinskog, pošto se svim tetkama (sveže sekularizovanim na Vajber) uzvratilo „Takođe“ na rimujuću čestitku dugu pet skrolova.Prevodilac Radoš Kosović, na visini zadatka (lepo, ima tek preko 30).Vrlo dobar, 4.

  • somuchreading
    2018-11-30 20:44

    οκ, δεν έχω ιδέα τι ακριβώς έχω διαβάσει εδώ και γιατί με επηρέασε τόσο πολύ το πρώτο βιβλίο του Αγώνα του Κνάουσγκορντ, μάλλον πρέπει να περάσει λίγο καιρός και να ξαναεπισκεφθώ τις αναμνήσεις μου από τούτο δω αργότερατο μόνο σίγουρο είναι πως αποτελεί ό,τι πιο προσωπικό, πιο δυνατό, πιο μη βαρετό έχω διαβάσει εδώ και πολύ καιρό και πως περιμένω τα επόμενα μέρη με ανυπομονησία και βλέπω πια με άλλο μάτι το αναγνωστικό μου 2015

  • Barry Pierce
    2018-12-08 01:49

    The hype around these books is immense. I’ve been meaning to start them for months but now I’ve started and ugh I’d already ordered the second one while I was half-way through this one. I really liked this. Knausgaard is an insufferable, narcissistic arsehole and I love every fibre of his being. This book covers some of his teenage years and the death of his father. His prose is just fantastic and poetic and ugh you just want to bathe in it. I know already that I’m gonna love this series, I cannot wait to read the next five.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-11-09 20:44

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]21:05:2015:Knausgård savages the 'Cyclops' Swedes . Another reason not to read the rest of the volumes["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>