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

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fiction as a representational art - in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle

The scene I'm in the midst of now in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle, volume 2 (A Man in Love) may be called KOK's version of My Dinner w/ Andre - a long conversation between two old friends, both inthis case writers, one the dominant, older, more mature and outspoken (Geir, KOK's old friend from Bergen who was his Virgil introducing him to life in Stockholm, though now they each have made their way and KOK has published 2 novels and is verging on fame), the other the reflective observer. Geir really goes at KOK, in his aggressive way (he was active in boxing and wrote about that), tells KOK he's a saint and an idealist - what an earlier time would have called a Romantic, I think - KOK protests, but not too much. Reading this scene, we have a broader perspective, as the readers of KOK's next great work, and we realize that somewhere between here and the end of the six-volume series KOK will have to come to the realization that his true theme or topic is not angels come to earth in the 17th century (his 2nd book) or a modern-day Noah set in Norway (1st novel), but his own life: that the material that each writer is given is his or her own lived experience, and rather than engage in research into another century or imagine a plot, characters, a world, the greatest feat a writer can accomplish is to capture his or her own consciousness in words: writing is an imitation of a life (or an act) - as KOK notes elsewhere, music is the only pure art, not representational at all - and literature is highly representational - but the closest that fiction can come to approaching nonrepresentational, paradoxically, is to re-create in words the lived experience of the author: he is, in this case, representing nothing but actually translation experience and feeling into language.

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