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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A pastoal interlude in My Struggle

Toward the end of volume 2 of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle there's a "pastoral interlude," as KOK and Linda and their daughter, Vanje, go to visit Linda's mother in the countryside outside of Stockholm, in the winter - many very beautiful passages describing the stark and clear winter landscape - passages that show how well KOK can write, and how simply - nothing boisterous or self-consciously "artistic" about his writing, anywhere, just simple and clear observation; one amusing moment in the pastoral interlude is his description of getting lost (on an earlier visit) and stumbling upon a lawn party, and the country home of a relative of the PM, I think, and noting how the guests on the lawn looked so "Bergman-like." Ha! And like Bergman, KOK imbues even his most placid scenes with dark undertones of dread: as the he and wife and baby come back to the cottage they here her mother and her partner engage in some harsh exchange of words, for example. There's also, in this setion of the book, quite a bit of literary jockeying: at various points KOK meets other writers, or they invite over some other people active in the arts, and he always feels awkward both talking about his achievements and not doing so, as if that's an act of false modesty. So he tends to withdraw - or else blurt out a strongly held opinion, of which he obviously has many, and then feeling he has seriously mis-stepped (for example, a denunciation of ceasarean birth, which leads to an awkward silence - though it's never stated, we suspect that perhaps the other woman present had given birth through c-section?). Also in this section some comments from KOK on art and literature - always interested to hear what he thinks on these topics, and whom he's reading and not reading - Calvino, interestingly, and many Scandinavian writers probably not available in English, and Holderlin, and a bio of Rimbaud - but sometimes I don't quite understand his comments on literature and art - may failing, no doubt, not his.

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