Lord knows the world has changed since I wrote this talk, but when the world falls to pieces around us, especially when the world falls to pieces, writers will still sit down to write. As Beckett tells us, even when we have “no power to express” and “no desire to express,” we still have “the obligation to express.” Telling stories allows the reader or the audience to see through the eyes of another, and generates empathy that we need now more than ever....more
Posts Tagged: Karl Ove Knausgaard
On Lit Hub, Stephanie Grant examines the deep pleasure and connection readers experience with the works of Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard. She suspects the familiar tone of both authors’ recent series might help otherwise fiction-averse readers dive into the narrative:
To put it another way, the intimacy of first-person narration in these novels sets the threshold for suspending one’s disbelief relatively low.
HELLO. I was hoping I would run into you on the elevator today. Here, this scene would be perfect for you: A young man takes an orange from the bowl in the kitchen. He sits on the couch in the living room and peels it.
Is it possible to separate Knausgaard the author from Knausgaard the protagonist? At the New Republic, Tess Crain asks this question, taking a look at the series from a woman’s point of view. By her estimation, Volume 5, just out in English, explains some of Knausgaard’s problematic views on women by framing him as “a man of God”:
…what makes My Struggle so upsetting to a female reader is also exactly what may redeem it: Sex and souls are separate.
At the New York Times, Karl Ove Knausgaard describes how Joyce’s Portrait included him in literature’s potential in a way that Ulysses didn’t:
In “Portrait,” Joyce ventures inside that part of our identity for which no language yet exists, probing into the space between what belongs to the individual alone and what is ours together, exploring the shifts of mind, the currents of our moods and feelings as they flow blindly this way and that, and mapping the unarticulated, more or less salient presence of the soul, that part of our inner being that rises when we are enthused and falls when we are afraid or despairing.
Check out highlights from a conversation between Sheila Heti and Karl Ove Knausgaard at the Chicago Review of Books that range from the question of whether real literature must “burn” to be written, to why there’s no therapy in My Struggle....more
For Electric Literature, Liesl Schillinger reflects on his struggles to find examples of “good” men in contemporary fiction, and shares his joy in finding one in Lauren Groff‘s Fates and Furies. Further, he argues that despite the self-deprecating narrator in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, the six-volume epic captures an “everyman” whose goodwill helps him to succeed:
There is room in the reading world for fiction about every kind of person on earth, whatever their sexual or gender identity or preference; whatever their deficit or surfeit of ability, whatever their weakness or strength of personality; whatever their luck, good or ill… But when I remember my troubled male friend, who asked me not so long ago, during a dark moment, to recommend a novel about a man who succeeded, I am so glad that I can now give him a title.
Patience. Curiosity. Repetition. Looking again and again. Not imposing a story line. Letting composition emerge through pattern, rhythm, shape, sound, movement. Occasionally … you hit upon a moment of grace. You can’t plan for it. You just have to practice enough so that you’re ready when it comes.
Like every other year, in 2015 we wrestled with the knowledge of our constructed selves. But rather than eschew personhood as a postmodernist might, we considered just who we’ve been inventing:
What do you write about when you no longer put stock in the idea—the narrative—that nature exists objectively and independently of our stories about it?
Domestic duties are regarded as feminine in popular culture. Karl Ove Knausgaard’s enormous three volume tome, My Struggle, is full of descriptions of domesticity, and he has been showered with highbrow literary praise for them. But would the same be true if he were a woman?...more
There is a vanishing point in our humanity, a point at which the other goes from being definite to indefinite. But this point is also the locus for the opposite movement, in which the other goes from indefinite to definite—and if there is an ethics of the novel, then it is here, in the zone that lies between the one and the all…
For the New Yorker, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard examines the points at which our reality blurs with fiction....more
“The challenge of memorializing doesn’t favor professionals,” writes Sean Minogue over at Full Stop. So, how are autobiographical narratives of loss by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Joan Didion, or Paul Auster different from therapeutic journaling? Minogue takes a look at how these authors express the everyday details of living after a loss, and how new forms of written self-expression, like Twitter, shifts the line between personal and public grieving....more
I think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles: Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all.
Over at WBUR, Radio Open Source calls their program “an American conversation with a global attitude.” The podcast touches on everything from first-reads with James Wood, to Knausgaard on literary mechanics, to Pakistan’s regrettable American marriage in wake of Osama Bin Laden—and for all their worldliness, they’re located right at home....more
At Vulture, Boris Kachka looks into the recent trend of publishing “mega-books,” with the hopes of answering a seemingly straightforward question: “When did book get so freaking enormous?” In his analysis, Kachka touches upon works by Knausgaard, Tartt, and Catton, all authors of recent works of significant length that have received a great deal of literary acclaim....more
That gratuitous attention to detail may explain why these scenes jump out at readers, but it doesn’t explain Knausgaard’s minor obsession with shit.
For Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon works to define “contemporary” literature and wonders where Karl Knausgaard’s My Struggle fits into the mix. What he ultimately argues is that contemporary literature is often “project based,” and that Knausgaard’s self-exploratory novel is the most definitive example of this kind of work in recent times:
Not only does the title My Struggle claim for Knausgaard the agency to define his own project, it also points to the audacity of its own belatedness.
Did Harry Potter turn us into serial readers? Alexander Chee suggests J.K. Rowling and Karl Ove Knausgaard aren’t all that different:
We are all after that word-lust, the novel that makes us want to read it as quickly as possible, and when we find it, we experience the paradoxical desire to stay inside the world the writer has created—which is impossible if we read quickly, unless there’s a sequel.
Amy Shearn makes the case for the struggle of author Dorothy Miller Richardson.
As much as I do love my dear prolific weirdo Knausgaard, he hasn’t really done anything all that revolutionary. In fact, exactly a century ago, England saw the beginnings of a similarly expansive novel brimming with what Ben Lerner called Knausgaard’s “radical inclusiveness … style-less style … apparently equal fascination with everything.” And no, I don’t mean Proust or Joyce, although at the time the writer was often mentioned in the same breath.
(n.); the condition or quality of being in a place, of being located or situated; whereness or ubication; from the Latin ubi (“where”)
“I love repetition. I love doing the same thing at the same time and in the same place, day in and day out.
I’m a Proustian in that sense, I believe in memories outside of consciousness, and this is just a way to find them. Writing is a way to get access to them. The thing you feel if you smell something, or hear something, if you hear music from the ’80s, and then you are back there with your whole body for maybe ten seconds, and it is very good.
In a recently tweeted series of amateur photos, artist and writer Szilvia Molnar satirizes the figure of the cool male writer so often conveyed in author portraits by the presence of a cigarette. Having noticed a discrepancy between the portrayal of Karl Ove Knausgaard and Zadie Smith in promotional photos for a publishing event, Molnar took it upon herself to reveal the manufactured ridiculousness of the serious cool-guy image with selfies that can’t possibly be taken seriously....more