The final installment in the long awaited, internationally celebrated My Struggle series.
The full scope and achievement of Knausgaard’s monumental work is evident in this final installment of his My Struggle series. Grappling directly with the consequences of Knausgaard’s transgressive blurring of public and private Book Six is a troubling and engrossing look into the mind of one of the most exciting artists of our time. Knausgaard includes a long essay on Hitler and Mein Kampf, particularly relevant (if not prescient) in our current global climate of ascending dictatorships.
The fifth book of Knausgaard’s powerful My Struggle series is written with tremendous force and sincerity. As a nineteen-year-old, Karl Ove moves to Bergen and invests all of himself in his writing. But his efforts get the opposite effect – he wants it so much that he gets writer’s block. At the same time, he sees his friends, one-by-one, publish their debuts. He suspects that he will never get anything published. Book Five is also a book about strong new friendships and a shattering love affair. Then one day Karl Ove reaches two crucial points in his life: his father dies, and shortly thereafter, he completes his first novel.
At eighteen years, old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fisherman’s village in the far north of the arctic circle to work as a school teacher. No interest in the job itself, his intention is to save up enough money to travel while finding the space and time to start his writing career. Initially everything looks fine. He writes his first few short stories, finds himself accepted by the hospitable locals, and receives flattering attention from several beautiful local girls. But as the darkness of the long arctic nights start to consume the landscape, Karl Ove’s life takes a darker turn. His writing repeats itself, his drinking escalates to some disturbing blackouts, his attempts at losing his virginity end in humiliation and shame, and to his distress, he also develops romantic feelings towards one of his students. Along the way, there are flashbacks to his high school years and the roots of his current problems. Ever present is the long shadow cast by his father, whose own sharply increasing alcohol consumption serves as an ominous backdrop to the author’s lifestlye.
A family of four–mother, father and two boys–move to the South Coast of Norway to a new house on a newly developed site. It is the early 1970s and the family’s trajectory, upwardly mobile: the future seems limitless. In painstaking, sometimes self-lacerating detail, Knausgaard paints a world familiar to anyone who can recall the intensity and novelty of childhood experience, one in which children and adults lead parallel lives that never meet. Perhaps the most Proustian in the series, Book Three gives us Knausgaard’s vivid, technicolor recollections of childhood, his emerging self-understanding, and the multilayered nature of time’s passing, memory, and existence.
“Of course, I remember nothing from this time. It is completely impossible to identify with the infant my parents photographed; this is in fact so difficult it almost seems wrong to use the word ‘I’ when referring to it, lying in the baby bath, for instance, its skin unnaturally red, its arms and legs sprawling, and its face distorted in a scream no one remembers the reason for anymore … Is that creature the same as the one sitting here in Malmö, writing this?” –from Book Three of My Struggle
More praise for Book Three:
“A superbly told childhood story … Knausgaard writes about everyday life as a child with a flow and continuity that all hangs together … the text has a gravitational pull that draws the reader in only further.” –Dag Og Tid (Norway)
“An aesthetic pleasure … A patient, chiseled, and intense portrayal of a child’s sensory experience. Book Three is a classic.” –Klassekampen (Norway)
“Compelling reading … Knausgaard has an equally good eye for small and large events.” –Aftenposten (Norway)
“A gripping novel … This childhood portrayal drifts off with a lightness and sensitivity that not many will associate with him … There is no doubt that the series is worth following the author all the way.” –Dagens Næringsliv (Norway)
“The man can write a novel about a solid, pretty traditional upbringing too … A sensitive, sharp depiction of growing up in the 70’s.” –Adresseavisen (Norway)
Book Two of the six-volume literary masterwork My Struggle flows with the same raw energy and candor that ignited the series’ unprecedented bestselling run in Scandinavia, a virulent controversy, and an avalanche of literary awards. Knausgaard breaks down lived experience into its elementary particles, revealing the wounds and epiphanies of a truly examined life. Walking away from everything he knows in Bergen, Karl Ove finds himself in Stockholm, where he waits for the next stretch of the road to reveal itself. He strikes up a deep friendship with another exiled Norwegian, a boxing fanatic and intellectual named Geir. He reconnects with Linda, a vibrant poet who had captivated him at a writers’ workshop years earlier, and the shape of his world changes. Book Two exposes the inner landscape of a man falling in love and the fraught joys and impossible predicaments he faces as a new father. We look on as he watches his life unfold. Love, rage, and beauty flood these pages. Knausgaard writes with exhilarating honesty and insight about the collection of moments that make up a life – the life of someone with an irrepressible need to write, of someone for whom art and the natural world are physical needs, of someone for whom death is always standing in the corner, of someone who craves solitude and love from the depths of his being.
Almost ten years have passed since Karl Ove Knausgaard’s father drank himself to death. Vulnerable and assailed by doubts, he is now embarking on a new novel. With an uncanny eye for detail, Knausgaard breaks down his own life story to its elementary particles, reliving memories, reopening wounds, and examining with candor the turbulence and the epiphanies that emerge from his own experience of fatherhood, the fallout in the wake of his father’s death, and his visceral connection to music, art, and literature. Karl Ove’s dilemmas strike nerves that give us raw glimpses of our particular moment in history as we witness what happens to the sensitive and churning mind of a young man trying- as if his very life depended on it- to find his place in the disjointed world around him. This Proustian masterpiece opens a window into one of the most original minds writing today.
Intense and vital… The need for totality . . . brings superb, lingering, celestial passages . . . The concluding sentences of the book [are] placid, plain, achieved. They have what Walter Benjamin called ‘the epic side of truth, wisdom.’ –James Wood, The New Yorker
“While not unconcerned with finding objective truth in the moments he recounts, Mr. Knausgaard aims first to simply record them, to try to shape the banal into something worth remembering. Beautifully rendered and, at times, painfully observant, his book does a superlative job of finding that “inner core of human existence.” –The Wall Street Journal
Steadily absorbing, lit up by pages of startling insight and harrowing honesty, My Struggle introduces into world literature a singular character and immerses us in his fascinating Underground Man consciousness. — Philip Lopate
Karl Ove–with his shyness, his passion, his honesty–can take on any subject and make it his own. — Edmund White
I read both books [One and Two] hungrily and find myself already missing Knausgaard just a few days after turning A Man in Love’s last page, searching the Web for inexpensive crash courses in Norwegian, mostly just wishing Volume Three were available in English now. –Jonathan Callahan, The Millions
Knausgaard’s preternatural facility for description, the dreamy thickness of his prose, speaks not only to the sheer pleasure his fiction affords, but to the philosophical stakes of that pleasure. — Mark Sussman, Los Angeles Review of Books