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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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Evil fathers in Boyhood (movie and novel)

Yes the evilfather figure is a looming, dangerous omnipresence throughout volume 3 (and volume 1, first half, for that matter) of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle - interestingly, volume 3 has the simple title Boyhood, and it calls up inevitable comparisons with the 2014 film this year of same name (film came out way after volume 3 of My Struggle but oddly was shot over roughly the same time span that KOK worked in). In any event, KOK, the narrator and main character, has a boyhood relation with his father that is much like the relationship with the evil stepfather (the first one in particular; the 2nd in a way as well) in the film Boyhood: throughout every moment of KOK's boyhood on the remote Norwegian island he is living in fear of his unpredictable, angry, and sarcastic father: he has all these wonderful boyhood adventures, playing with his pals in the woods, swimming, soccer, childish mischief, reading comics, and so on, so easy for so many (for me anyway) to identify with, but always in his mind is the looming or lurking fear of his father's anger: did Dad see us up on the cliff, will he know what we were doing, will he ask, can he see right through me? Among the many incredible and incredibly sad moments: the father yelling at him for stacking wood the wrong way, the father insisting that he go to swim class wearing a girl's swim cap that the kind but ditsy mother bought by mistake, the father driving fast and dangerously, the father angrily doling out candies as they watch a soccer match on TV, and most memorably KOK eating a bowl of Cornflakes with milk gone sour because he's afraid of his father's reaction were he to tell him the milk is bad (the father, so unpredictable, is entirely sympathetic and pours fresh milk - his unpredictability is what makes him especially fearsome).  There are so many great moments in this volume, but two I'll mention (I wish I'd marked the pages): the account of the drive home from visiting the grandparents and the sense of being safe in a speeding car in the darkness (contrasted with the tedium and slow passage of time on the journey out - leading to one of KOK's reflections on time) and the very unusual thoughts on shadows as creatures of the night that have some how creeped into and stolen a part of daylight, growing, lengthening, as we move toward their world of darkness (more time reflection, and a particularly Scandinavian observation, as night is so long coming and long shadows so evident in the summer).

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