Sunday, November 20, 2016

Knausgaard's My Struggle Book 5

Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle, Book 5 is mostly about his late teens and into his twenties. He's at a writing academy, then university and compulsory national service in Bergen, Norway, before finally publishing a novel.

He details how he's trying to figure out who he is. His sole goal is to be a writer, but when he writes it comes out hollow. He's given work to do with radio interviews and book reviews, but it is also depressing because it seems to mean he can write about writers and not be one. Realist style is his strength, which of course eventually becomes the basis for these very books. But back then, he saw his friends publish their first novels and he had nothing but a single short story in print. Only toward the end of the book does he succeed, but even then he finds no solace.

As with the other books, shame is ever-present. No doubt much of it stems from his abusive father (who is only sporadically mentioned in this one until the end, when he comes back with full force). Knausgaard never feels he's living up to his potential and tells people that freely. Dangerously, he also blacks out while drinking and does self-destructive things, not just embarrassing himself but also injuring his brother, cheating on his girlfriend and later his wife, and getting arrested. Then he feels shame about that too. It can be painful to read.

He captures mood so well. His emotional gears shift up and down, and as a reader you can feel them, especially because he is so painstakingly honest. He's fumbling forward with a tremendous amount of emotional baggage and trying to get you to feel it with him. As he notes, he was searching for "future and meaning" (p. 527).

As for Book 6, which is the last, as of June 2016 the translator was saying publication would be sometime in 2017. It'll be about 1,200 pages long and I am looking forward to it.

Here are my reviews of Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, and Book 4.

Update (3/29/17) Now it seems Book 6 won't come out until Fall 2018, which is a long time. I'll check out his seasons books when the first comes out in August 2017.


Fabian,  4:10 PM  

Being too uneducated to understand either boksmal or nynorsk, I also find myself waiting eagerly for the final tome - and for the books about the lives of his daughters. Impressively good.

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