Fatherhood adds to his sense of life as a series of tests flunked.
Linda lets him leave her with their newborn daughter for six months while he finishes writing a novel, as long as he then takes over daycare so she can return to drama school. Much of the book describes his frustration at all the nappy-changing, buggy-pushing and dishwashing that this bargain entails.
He finds a purpose of sorts in trying to show his wife how much better he can manage than she ever did — a sustained act of passive aggression that looks still more ignoble in the light of her past mental illness. Ali Smith on recent Scandinavian fiction. Jonas Jonasson: My year-old hero, and the secret of happiness.
She was so fat. The energy in this small moment ultimately comes from the same source as when Knausgaard tells us, in the first volume, about the fixtures and fittings that his father soiled.
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What makes it more honest than your average tell-all — and more interesting, I suspect, to all the sad, not-so-young literary men who make up its natural audience — is the transparency of the paradox on which this extraordinary enterprise is built: in order to write, Knausgaard craves escape from his life, but that selfsame life is the very thing he ends up writing about.
Follow Telegraph Books on Twitter. Love puzzles? Knausgaard too is interested in refusal. I notice that I get angry just talking about it. A typical Knausgaardian sentence piles independent clause upon independent clause, linking these with comma splices where grammatical convention would seem to call for a period, semicolon or coordinating conjunction. I began to wonder if it was a function of the translation; perhaps Norwegian possessed different conventions with regards to sentence structure?
In a few minutes the festivities would continue, and the wonder would dissipate itself in them. The varied punctuation helps to regulate the flow of the two sentences. We stop at the periods. And pause at the semi-colon and colon. Each of the two commas is followed by a coordinating conjunction but, and. Now, compare this to the writing in My Struggle:.
One sentence, 57 words: one period, seven commas. Knausgaard will sometimes leave a sentence deliberately clunky to enhance this impression. In particular, Knausgaard has a knack for describing eyes, getting at the essential individuality and emotion they convey. Knausgaard is obsessed, in a conflicting way, with how he sees the world and how others see him. It is little wonder, then, that painting is his favourite art Book One contains a beautiful passage describing the eyes in a late Rembrandt self-portrait , or that the most frightening creature he can imagine, from a childhood dream, is a lizard-like figure without any eyes.
How Knausgaard perceives his own eyes often provides a clue to his relationship with the world. When he first arrives in Stockholm:. I studied myself in the mirror for a few seconds. My face was pale and slightly bloated, hair unkempt and eye. Staring but not in an active, outward-facing fashion, as though they were looking for something, more as if what they saw was drawn into them, as if they sucked everything in.
I saw only myself everywhere. Your father, she said, he looked straight into people. He saw immediately who they were. No, I said. Linda brought me out, right to the edge of myself, where everything was near and everything seemed stronger. I could counter that Dante, for example, had written just fiction, that Cervantes had written just fiction, and that Melville had written just fiction.
It was irrefutable that being human would not be the same if these three works had not existed, So why not just write fiction? Archipelago has wisely decided to publish My Struggle without a genre label. Throughout our childhood and teenage years, we strive to attain the correct distance to objects and phenomena.
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We read, we learn, we experience, we make adjustments. Then one day we reach the point where all the necessary distances have been set, all the necessary systems have been put in place. That is when time begins to pick up speed. It no longer meets any obstacles, everything is set, time races through our lives, the days pass by in a flash and before we know what is happening we are forty, fifty, sixty.
Meaning requires content, content requires time, time requires resistance. Knowledge is distance, knowledge is stasis and the enemy of meaning. My picture of my father on that evening in is, in other words, twofold: on the one hand I see him as I saw him at that time; on the other hand, I see him as a peer through whose life time is blowing and unremittingly sweeping large chunks of meaning along with it.
The overall effect of the first two My Struggle books, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, is both liberating and exhilarating. In any one book, so much has, of necessity, to be pared away. But when we return to the present, it is with a renewed knowledge and understanding of the characters and their situations. For all its breadth, the writing still only seems to include everything.
ISBN 13: 9781846554704
Gradually, as Book Two progresses, we move back round to the subjects and questions of Book One : alcoholism, death, paternity. We come to see that death and love are bound up together in myriad ways. But perhaps, with his particular brand of intuitive energy , Knausgaard was setting us up for this all along, right from the very first sentence of Book One :.
He lives in Toronto and divides his time between his writing and teaching at Humber College. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.
My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard - Archipelago Books
Learn how your comment data is processed. What is it that has etched itself into you? Linda Bostrom Knausgaard imbues these scenes with the nostalgic power of true love glimpsed in retrospect. Seller Inventory GOR More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Harvill Secker, Ships from the UK.
My Saga, Part 1
Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Seller Inventory GRP A Man in Love: My Struggle: 2. Karl Ove Knausgaard. Publisher: Harvill Secker , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:.