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Monday, September 15, 2014

Knausgaard's Struggle

Oh I don't know, I bought it because of the publicity and my first impression after reading perhaps fifty pages in the middle of the first volume is that the style is commonplace.  Karl Ove Knausgaard could learn a lot from Johnny Updike.  I finished Rabbit at Rest a couple months ago, having dropped it halfway through a few years back and picking it up again I know not why, and was deeply impressed, there's nothing the man couldn't articulate clearly and his description of Rabbit's relationship with commercial television shows was remarkably well done and his descriptions of old songs on the radio as he ran away once again, this time to Florida, were extraordinary.  Updike's world is alive and vivid to an almost surreal degree; Karl's is humdrum.  His general approach, based on what I've read so far, is so old-fashioned the pages creak as you read them.

I watched half an interview with our loquacious Norwegian on Silliman's blog and when he referred to the six-volume project, My Struggle, written over three years, as "anti-Proust," I couldn't have agreed more.  Karl said that when writing he couldn't distinguish between "quality writing" and writing that lacked quality.  Why he said this I couldn't tell you.

Madame Bovary, a mere one-volume work written over four years, approaches perfection and I commend it to our Norwegian titan.  But what in God's name is the point of semi-cryptically referencing Hitler in the title of an explicitly (the narrator's name is Karl Ove Knausgaard) autobiographical novel?  What am I missing?

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