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

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Dark and mencacing tones threaten domestic bliss in My Struggle Vol 2

After a moment of bliss - on birth of their first child - many long days of angst, as Karl Ove Kanusgaard and later-to-be wife Linda deal with the uncertainties of child-rearing - in their case much back and forth about whether to meet each of their daughter's whims and needs or whether to have her learn to deal with frustrations - anyone who's a parent will identify with the difficulties KOK describes, sometimes just the logistics of changing clothing, keeping child occupied without giving up your entire soul, the constant decisions about the degree to which one attends to the child's needs. KOK obssesses over every aspect of his life, as readers well know, and in particular he feels like a failure in comparison with others who seem to have angelic children that cause them no trouble or trauma at all (of course maybe he's not seeing the whole picture). Anxiety continues to build over his need to write and the extent to which his paternal responsibilities interfere w/ this need: ultimately, because he believes Linda should continue w/ her school as well, they opt to send the baby, Vanje, to child care at a very early age - we have read earlier in volume 2 about the problems she encountered in child care - and they decide to have another baby, in fact he wants to have 3 children, which, again, we know he does within short order - but that doesn't actually solve any problems, it just compounds the problems in their marital relationship or else pushes them off, masks them, temporarily. We see an ominous hint of that when we learn that KOK's brother, Yngve, has suddenly left his wife at 40, as their father had done a generation before - suggesting that all this domestic peace and tranquility that KOK has striven for may blow up in a flash. There are ominous notes all around, perhaps best symbolized by or enacted through the troubled and troublesome neighbor who seems mentally deranged and obviously has it "in for" KOK and Linda - to the point of sabotaging some of their belongings, tormenting them with blasts of music at all hours, and writing to housing authorities to have them censured or expelled: the worm in the apple, the flaw in the design, the drop of poison that can ruin all.

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