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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, May 9, 2016

Karl Ove Knausgaard's strange narrative decisions

It's really quite astonishing how Karl Ove Kanausgaard can go into such exquisite and sometimes excruciating detail about certain passing moments in his early life - a conversation in a bar or nightclub, a class discussion, a walk through a rain-swept town, and so forth and almost completely gloss over key events in his life (unless these come up for more detailed treatment in book 6?) such as his engagement (to Tanje), their trip together to Africa (one sentence), their wedding (a page perhaps). That's all part of the strangeness and beauty, however, of My Struggle, and his literary forebears, Proust and Joyce, were even more extreme - Proust writing essentially an entire volume about one or two salon gatherings, Joyce find all of Irish civilization (and British literary history) in one day in the life of 3 people. There does, however, as I approach the conclusion of Book 5, seem to be a bit of a headlong rush, atypical of KOK, as if he's got a lot of material before him and needs to get through it all before the book becomes unwieldy. There's a sorrow that imbues it, as well, because of his smart decision to tell his story out of chronological sequence; just as we feel he may be maturing and he may have found a soul mate who can help him build confidence and eradicate or diminish his sense of shame, we recall that his first marriage failed and we remember all of his character flaws - the drinking, the violence, and self-destructive impulses - and recognize that his life is on no easy course. He lives in the shadow of death.

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