karl ove knausgaard

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i am almost finished with vol. 1. (i know, i know -- the point of "relevance" for these books was a few years ago.

i am surprised at how good it is. he is very observant and funny and seems quite honest. even the digressions about art history are entertaining. his idea that, with munch and expressionism, human beings and their emotional tumult came to take up the whole frame of the picture -- that everything became a projection of *that* -- has some truth to it. 20th century art was a certainly a turn away from enchantment with the visible world, an idea that this is no longer where we are to find meaning or intimations of transcendence or whatever it is artists are looking for.

treeship., Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:06 (one month ago) link

I love the first book. The new year's eve saga and cleaning up after his dead father (which I guess are the main narrative elements) are both tremendous

Babby's Yed Revisited (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:07 (one month ago) link

I've still to finish this series,read the first three when the final 3 hadn't been published in English yet and haven't gone back. Have part 4 on hold from the library

Babby's Yed Revisited (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:09 (one month ago) link

I found much to savor in the first three volumes but haven't felt much need to continue. The comparison's facile because it's so apt, but Elena Ferrante's multi-volume novel, by concentrating on the tensions on a decades-long friendship, found ways to get beyond the self, thus it felt fresher (I finished it last December).

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:09 (one month ago) link

it's interesting you bring that up. wanting to get beyond the self is an idea he comes back to, again and again. he says there is an obvious way to do it: throwing over his literary ambitions and focus on living in the here and now, his life with his family. but for a mysterious reason he says he cannot do that, he feels the need to use writing to break free from the dreary and well-worn paths of his own mind. and interestingly, he seems to have contempt for himself that he feels this way -- that he refuses to find the meaning of his life in his relationships

treeship., Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:19 (one month ago) link

contempt for self is a weirdly rewarding theme in these books

lukas, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:31 (one month ago) link

i'm at about the same spot you are, jim in vacouver, and looking forward to finishing it someday.

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 23:13 (one month ago) link

having read the blurb for the next in the series we can "look forward" to Karl One failing to break his virginity, getting blackout drunk, and developing romantic feelings for a 13 year old (at 18).

Babby's Yed Revisited (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 23:15 (one month ago) link

Part of my resistance, I'll admit, is reading another novel by a het white guy for which solipsism is a mode whereas Ferrante's novel followed unexplored terrain.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 23:18 (one month ago) link

I sort of had an opposite reaction where I really enjoyed the ferrante but ultimately found it to be a very good series of realist novels, nothing new.

although Knausgaard isn't particularly sui generis or anti-literature (as he has sometimes indicated), just autobiographical material made into novelistic form

Babby's Yed Revisited (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 23:28 (one month ago) link

he protests too much, it's "without condensation and editing, just writing and not worrying to much about it" but then you read a sequence like the new year's eve biting the first book and it's just a novel, character has clear motives and keeps facing set backs, there's tension and humor, the digressions that intercut the narrative become shorter splices as the story unfolds, and ends in a deflating climax for the protagonist.

Babby's Yed Revisited (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 23:36 (one month ago) link

yeah the idea that these books are just a formless recounting of the minutiae of his life is simply untrue. this is a novel, and the structure of it feels highly intentional and not at all digressive or meandering.

treeship., Wednesday, 16 December 2020 23:58 (one month ago) link

The first is the most novelistic though. You do start to get the feeling of formless recounting as you go on.

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 17 December 2020 00:14 (one month ago) link

I read the first volume of My Struggle in 2014, and finished the series this year. Each one was a rewarding and enjoyable experience, and will stay with me for a long time.

I've always had a desire to express myself as honestly as possible, but have struggled with doing it throughout my entire life. I worry too much about what others think, and have a desire to be seen as cool or smart, and it stops me from saying what I really think, or feel, and stops me from putting any of the self-examination I've done into words, or art. Knausgaard represents a sort of ideal for me here...it's very rare that I come across a book that makes me 100% believe that the writer is honestly communicating themselves, but I feel it in My Struggle. Part of the attraction is probably also my feeling that most of the other pieces of 'personal' writing I encounter, whether it's what gets classed as 'auto-fiction', or in writing on the internet, scans to me as dishonest, posturing bullshit. And I include myself in this. I think Knausgaard successfully transcends bullshit, and it's interesting in Book 6 to see him deal with the personal fallout of his quest for authenticity and honesty.

Reading him has also given me the courage to write more. About myself and my life in honest terms. Nothing that I am courageous enough to share or put into art, but there's been something therapeutic and helpful about mining my own feelings and insecurities and sources of shame.

I've started reading his seasons quartet too, and have enjoyed them. They're kind of a balm. More poetic and focused on things external to Knausgaard than My Struggle, but still with an eye for the mundane in a way that appeals to me.

triggercut, Thursday, 17 December 2020 10:59 (one month ago) link

I've always had a desire to express myself as honestly as possible, but have struggled with doing it throughout my entire life. I worry too much about what others think, and have a desire to be seen as cool or smart, and it stops me from saying what I really think, or feel, and stops me from putting any of the self-examination I've done into words, or art. Knausgaard represents a sort of ideal for me here...it's very rare that I come across a book that makes me 100% believe that the writer is honestly communicating themselves, but I feel it in My Struggle. Part of the attraction is probably also my feeling that most of the other pieces of 'personal' writing I encounter, whether it's what gets classed as 'auto-fiction', or in writing on the internet, scans to me as dishonest, posturing bullshit. And I include myself in this. I think Knausgaard successfully transcends bullshit, and it's interesting in Book 6 to see him deal with the personal fallout of his quest for authenticity and honesty.

yes, i feel similarly about his writing, and about being inspired by it to try to be more honest in some ways. i don't think he always transcends bullshit,but he often does, which is still a huge accomplishment. and he he seems honest (to me) about knowing that some of what comes out will be bullshit no matter what, because that's human. (i might be projecting all these things on him, or on my reading of it)

Karl Malone, Thursday, 17 December 2020 19:27 (one month ago) link


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