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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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The most exquisite and painful memories since Proust: Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle Vol 2

Started volume two, A Man in Love, of Karl Ove Knausgaard's amazing six-vol series, My Struggle - even spring for the hard-back, a brick of a book but with a book like this I want to own it in reality and not "virtually." I was literally laughing out loud - which I rarely do while reading - going thru the first episode in which KOK describes his family "vacation" - it's now about 2009, he's living in Malmo w/ 2nd wife and 3 children, first volume completed (and published?), these are the children about who he disparagingly said in vol 1 that he cared for his work more than for them - he's now a more devoted dad, sort of, but does not shy away from presenting the darker side of his children's obstreperous and demanding personalities. As we know by now, he's quite the misanthrope, independent and self-reliant, a social observer more than participant - in other words, a novelist - but far more blunt and courageous than any other novelist I've read. He notes that he doesn't even understand vacations; they go off to a summer house, where he and wife squabble incessantly, then pack up and leave to stay w/ some friends who say they don't mind having kids around, ha!, and then depart for home, w/ a long stop at amusement park, one of the funniest scenes ever. Then we move back in time a bit to his and his children's difficulties in adjusting to life in Malmo - mostly centered on a b-d party - where his daughter Vanja clings and cannot mix w/ others - like her dad - who is ruthless in his description of some of the parents at the party - amazing, when you think that they will clearly recognize themselves eventually - but he's fearless. In the first 50 pp or so we are always in the near-present - nothing about his family background, detailed so exquisitely and painfully in volume 1, but I assume we will get more back story as this volume progresses; one of the running jokes is KOK's occasional observation as to how much he has forgotten, that his few memories may not actually be his most significant - if so, astounding, as his recollections are more precise than almost any writer aside from his hero, Proust. A very intriguing part of this section is his discussion of nature v nurture and his odd conclusion that turns most theories inside out: we are born different, and the process of living is a process of making us more alike - a process that he, of course, like most writers and artists, resists at the core of his being. Hints throughout about his unpolitically correct views, esp on immigration, which was and is totally transforming Sweden - not sure how this will develop, aside from keeping KOK even more on the "outside."

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