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

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Knausgaard - a difficult and odd character

As noted yesterday Karl Ove Knausgaard's A Man In Love, volume 2 of My Struggle, moves incrementally backward in narrative time, starting in the near present when KOK is a father of 3 and living in Malmo - and now, about a third of the way into the book, I'm at the point about 10 (?) years earlier when KOK has left his first wife, Tonje (sp?), and is living in Stockholm and beginning the relationship with Linda, who is to become 2nd (current) wife. A few notable elements: KOK a very odd and troubled young man, a rising novelist, living in Bergen in his native Norway, apparently married to T for I think he said 8 (or was it 6?) years, decides needs some separation and leaves for Stockholm - evidently without really telling her that he's leaving for good; looks up an old Norwegian writer friend whom he hasn't been in touch w/ for a dozen years, the friend takes him in and helps him find an apartment - difficult, in Stockholm housing conditions - and he looks up Linda, a fellow writer whom he'd met some time ago at a writers' conference and sparks flew between them but evidently nothing much more. Well we already know that KOK is a very difficult and odd character - but the abruptness with which he sheds a life and relationship and begins a new life in a new (albeit nearby) country is pretty astonishing - but it's all part of his "struggle": what we're constantly seeing in the novel is the difficulty he has in fitting in, in being close to anyone, in a world where fitting in means conformity and he is anything but a conformist, and being close to someone means giving up some of your isolation and loneliness, qualities or conditions that seem to be essential to him as a writer. As said in previous post, he's like Proust without the cork-lined room. He's also far more well-read and scholarly than he lets on - as the narrative is replete with observations about various European writers; we also notice that Scandinavian writers are a real "set" - when he moves to Stockholm he hooks up with other writers to find a flat - and they all seem to know one another and look out for one another - in ways that American writers do not or cannot. It's like a club or a set; he mentions many Swedish and Norwegian writers whom I've never heard of but I suspect most if not all are real people, properly identified. I suspect as we move backward in time across the span of this volume we'll get a better sense of what prompted him to walk out on a seemingly loving or at least amicable marriage.

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