Knausgaard’s ‘My Struggle’

Has anyone out there been hearing about Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 3,600 page, 6-volume autobiographical-novel (is this a thing?) called, My Struggle? In German, it’s ‘Mein Kampf” (sound familiar?). Germany and England wouldn’t even use the title because of how provocative the name.

I’ll be honest. I’m skeptical.

But a lot of other authors and bookie-folks have been skeptical as well and then couldn’t put the volumes down. In his native-Norway, they’ve even had to declare “Knausgaard-free days,” where people can’t talk about it. Seriously? This is crazy.

After listening to this public radio interview with him, I’m quasi-interested, though I doubt I have enough time to read all the volumes.

From what I understand, it’s an autobiographical novel (because it uses all of the tropes and styles of a novel), and he can spend 300-some pages on one day. He wrote the whole thing in 3 years, and would just throw out whole chunks if he didn’t like them.

Here’s a quote from James Wood’s article in The New Yorker about the title:

The Hitlerian title (“Min Kamp,” in Norwegian) refers not only to the usual stations of the bildungsroman but also to two fierce battles. One is with the author’s father, a morose and distant schoolteacher who left the family when Knausgaard was a teen-ager, and then drank himself to death. The more pervasive struggle is with death itself, in which writing is both weapon and battlefield. Writing promises to rescue moments from the march of time, but serious writing also lays bare, examines, dramatizes—and, in this sense, seems to prolong—that death journey.

I’m really fascinated with this type of literature. I’ve often thought of writing down my life story, though I doubt I’d have any kind of courage to publish it. The discipline of writing interests me more. I blog daily, or try to write something down each day. For him to write all of this, he started out writing some 5-pages a day and ended up writing about 22-pages a day! I cannot imagine writing so much. I guess it’s all in the practice, the time spent, the discipline.

I can get a copy of Volume 1 on Amazon for ten bucks and free 2-day shipping. I might have to see what this hype is all about. It may be a forth-coming title on my fall reading list.