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

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The bookstore where I bought My Struggle appears in the novel

Karl Ove Knausgaard and friend and fellow writer Geir continue their discussion, probing each other's personality, although mainly it's Geir pushing KOK's buttons, and patience, as he tells KOK: you're a saint an idealist, you would never be unfaithful, never take great risks, never do anything you'd be ashamed of (except when drunk). KOK accepts this account of himself - but of course we, now nearly two volumes into his 6-volume epic, My Struggle, know that he is bearing tremendous burdens of guilt and shame, that even the slightest mis-step or mis-statement stays with him for a lifetime - an no doubt that writing My Struggle was, is, his attempt to reconcile these tensions in his personality. Far from being cautious, timid, and decorous, this novel shows that he's actually courageous and perhaps even reckless - bearing his soul like none other, and providing as best he can a true account of the lives, personalities, faults, flaws of everyone he knows, everyone closest to him. Geir knocks KOK a bit for his success, the envy is obvious, as he tells KOK he's in an extremely privileged and fortunate position, his opinion sought after, media attention, able to publish anything anywhere - while Geir is struggling with a book that may or may not make his reputation, but he's already 40 and the book will take him years to write. KOK in response indicates how he hates the publicity and all the posing involved - literally, posing for pictures, and more figuratively "posing" responses to inane questions - can we, can he, imagine Proust doing that? Following the long dinner with Geir, KOK gives an account of one of the media interviews, the flattery and the falsehoods, very painful, and yet most readers, if they're writers and many inevitably will be, will side a little more with Geir here: count your blessings and suck it up. KOK notices that someone's been hitting his liquor cabinet and his suspects Linda's mother, who's been watching the baby - but we have to wonder if the truth is more ominous: Could it be Linda? A small note: loved the scene when he went into Hendengrens (had to check spelling) bookstore in Stockholm and picks up a stack of books in the basement; why? - because we went to exactly this store - to the basement where there was an unbelievably great and smart collection of books in English - and that's where I bought the first volume of My Struggle, which was literally in arm's reach as I was reading - I picked it up and the sticker from the store is still on the back cover.

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