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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why Karl Ove Knausgaard cries at the death of his father

Fascinating to see how the strands of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle begin to loop together toward the end - at least in the penultimate Book 5: In this volume he's describing the 5 or so years he spent in Bergen as a young man and aspiring writer - it's the most straightforward chronology of any of the books so far - we see him mature from a kid both cocky and insecure, coming to recognize that his talent is thin or at least undeveloped - and over time he builds his talent, begins to get a reputation as a smart reviewer and critic, has one breakthrough story and then, right near the end of the book, his first novel is accepted for publication. Meanwhile he builds some long-lasting friendships with other writers of his generation, and, more important, after several disastrous relationships and several typical bumbling youthful relationships he meets a lovely woman and they marry - not, as we know from early volumes, happily ever after. The twist is that right near the end of Book 5 KOK's brutal, domineering, and pathetic father dies of alcoholism - and we're put right back into Book 1 - but now we know so much more about KOK than we did at that point in the sequence. In fact, my memory failed and I had thought that KOK was an established writer, and perhaps on his 2nd marriage, at the time of his father's death, but now I'm reminded otherwise - he was just about to have his first publication and he's just a few months into his (first) marriage, which makes the death of his father more strange and poignant- he's still so young, with such a seemingly bright future ahead, and now he has to plunge into death. It's still puzzling how deeply KOK mourns his father - he's very sensitive throughout his life and prone to crying, everything from moist eyes to sobbing, but I wonder why he wouldn't just think good riddance to the son of a bitch, but it's not his father - it's, to paraphrase Hopkins, Karl Ove he mourns for.

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