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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, May 28, 2015

The unexamined life: What Karl Ove Knausgaard does not write about

Been communicating with friend WS (not William Shakespeare) about the aspects of his life that Karl Ove Knausgaard does not write about in My Struggle - and you can imagine that the sum total these unexamined aspects is small indeed, maybe two. WS notes in particular something I'd mentioned briefly in a recent post: he never really explains why his mother never intervened to stop that father's cruelty and (mostly verbal) abuse. In volume 4 KOK as a 16-year-old, shortly after parents' divorce, does discuss the matter with his mother, who claims she just never noticed anything - a likely story. But KOK accepts that, or at least seems to, and tells her it's not her fault, etc. I imagine that he must be holding some kind of rage against his mother deep inside himself, yet, especially at that age, with his parents just divorced and feeling unwanted by his father (and later by paternal grandparents) KOK couldn't even face the idea of accusing his mother and risk losing her love - it's one area he cannot touch, at age 16 and perhaps not even in the present narrative moment (age 40). A second aspect, and really for me the first scene in the entire series so far that rings false, is his failure to have sex with his long-time crush Hanna (?) - he calls her on a whim when he's home alone, mother gone away overnight, she comes over, lets him know she's broken up w/ her boyfriend, pretty much invites herself to stay overnight and to stay in his room - he puts a mattress on the floor - and then she asks him to rub her back - and that's it? Yes, I can believe the facts, I can believe he didn't have sex w/ her, but I can't believe how KOK leaves this moment unexamined: what drives him to this? Fear of sex or of his performance (he's still a virgin); some kind of unwillingness to face the reality of this young woman rather than his mythic idea of her and her beauty?, some lingering guilt or impiety? KOK examines even the minutia of his adolescent life and it's kind of astonishing to me and disappointing that he lets this moment go with only a small scene of regret the next morning, feigning that he didn't understand how she was coming on to him. There, those are my complaints about My Struggle, which remains to me one of the great literary works to date of our young century.

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