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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

Monday, June 1, 2015

On e long sentence on Karl Ove Knausgaard's narrative genius

Some readers may think that Karl Ove Knausgaard is just "spilling" as he writes My Struggle, just putting down memories as they come to him and pour out of him and into print but as I'm nearing the final sections of volume 4 I'm struck by the artfulness of his design and conception in this volume in particular but in the series as a whole (to date). In this volume the story begins as he's 18 and beginning his first job - teaching elementary-middle school - just out of high school (gymnas) - rather amazing by U.S. standards, and we quickly see that intelligent as he may be he's too immature for this work - in fact the sequence begins with some reasonably effective classroom management and then he goes to his first party - and wakes up in the morning violently ill from drink with the events of the night before a complete black-out - then we jump back to KOK @ 16, in gymnas/high school, and getting more and more into drinking and eventually some pretty intense drug use as well - more or less kicked out of the house by his mother, cold-shouldered by his father, sunned even by his grandparents, which only pushes him to drink even more - and as we follow him on this downward spiral he suddenly says - two weeks later - and he's describing another party and we realize, wait, we've now caught up to the beginning of the novel and we see precisely how ill prepared and unsuitable KOK is for his teaching gig - his blackout was not a one-time phenomenon but the culmination, or, what's the opposite of that?, a diminutization of his addictions - he's in real trouble - and yet, unlike about a million other guys who dream of becoming a writer, he's actually despite all his drinking and his sexual anxieties, he spends a lot of time writing, working very hard on his first stories, and we know, reading these fabulous volumes, that his writing will become his identity - and his salvation. (Sorry for long sentence!)

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