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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, June 4, 2015

Karl Ove Knausgaard, teacher

A short but touching scene toward the end of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle volume 4 as the father of one of KOK's students pays a visit - the student is Jo, a small and somewhat annoying kid who's picked on (not quite bullied) by his classmates and pretty much cut out of their games and their socializing, who clings to KOK - KOK doesn't like the kid much and feels a little guilt about that - not all that much older than his students, he's drawn to the popular ones, particularly the pretty girls. The father notes that his son is sad at home and doesn't enjoy school - as he used to  - and he hopes KOK can help. KOK tries to reassure the dad - the kids are all right, they don't really dislike Jo, it's something that will pass - but of course he realizes it won't pass, that life will be hard for this little boy, especially in this extremely small town that offers no other options for the kids - and he feels empathy for the dad, who has to live with the sorrow and ostracism of his child. Whose heart wouldn't break about this? KOK has a few suggestions, says he and one of the other teachers will work out a plan to include Jo - he really tries - further evidence to me that he could have made a very good teacher. But he's drawn to another career, writing, and the teaching does not seduce him away from that (as we imagine it must have done for his father). In one of those intriguing time shifts, KOK jumps ahead 11 years for a few pages, tells of a time when, now 29, and married, he has published a novel about his year of teaching in the far north and he's giving a reading near the village where he taught - and his prettiest ex-student, Andrea, whom he frequently thinks about in My Struggle and whom he apparently described quite accurately in the novel in question - and another friend ask if they can get together while he's in town. They do, and we know that their lives are a million miles (or kilometers) from his - but he still thinks of her wistfully and regrets not making a play for her (their age gap is very appropriate now), even though he's married - which does not bode well for that relationship, as we know from previous volumes.

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