Recent work by the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard can be read as an attempt to examine a "whole life from all sides." What for Dolly took shape as a four-hour respite from child-rearing has for Knausgaard become several books, including the six My Struggle novels. In the first two volumes, Knausgaard documents a landscape of encounters and objects (family dinners, cassette tapes, Rembrandt), his relationship with his abusive father, his two marriages, and the birth of his first three children. In volumes three, four, and five, there are more family dinners, white Nikes, and Flaubert; we learn about his childhood, sexual awakening, struggle with alcoholism, and ambition to become a writer. The final volume charts the publication and reception of the first book, including a lawsuit filed by an uncle, unhappy with the portrayal of a brother. The series courses along for nearly 4,000 pages, yet Knausgaard's clarity of voice and his compulsive, convulsive attention to detail means that nothing feels repetitive.


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pp. 132-135
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