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

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Why we shouldn't loathe Karl Ove Knausgaard

As part 2 of Book 5 in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle opens we jump about 3 years further into his life - he's now about 23 and studying in the literature program in Bergen and appreciating some really great novels - notably Magic Mountain and other works by Mann - breaking free from the fixation on experimental fiction that dominated the Writing Academy, where he'd completed his first year of studies and that as far as I can see did him no good, more or less shattered his self-confidence and moved him deeper into drinking and other destructive behavior. Yes, the NYTBR review that came out today is probably right (I won't read it till later but did read the headline and boldface pull-quotes) that KOK is almost daring his readers to see him as an evil person. But we don't, really, though we might have had this book been a standalone, but not if we've gone w/ him this far and seen the legacy of alcoholism in his family and the terrible bullying he was subjected to by his hateful father. It strikes me that KOK's post high-school (gymnas) experiences were completely upside-down: after gumnas he went to teach for a year in a fairly remote high school, then spent a year in the Writing Academy where he was the youngest of the 8 students, then began reading literature in what seems like it must be a university. Shouldn't this have been reversed? Study literature and earn an undergrad degree, try teaching for a year, then enter the Writing Academy? He was for too immature and irresponsible to teach right out of high school, far too inexperienced to devote a year to writing. At least he seems happier and more respected in the literature program. We do then step back to where part 1 left off, with KOK sobbing in remorse before his brother whom he'd badly injured in a drunken rage - and, as that part of the story fills in, we see KOK enter into what seems like the first healthy and mature love relationship of his life thus far - so we'll see how that relationship founders, no doubt.

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