Saturday, May 14, 2016

Again about Karl Ove Knausgaard

I know I keep coming back to this, but I just can't help myself. There is something mesmerizing about this series of books. I am now in the middle of Book 4, in which our hero has taken himself to the Northern reaches of Norway to teach in a high school, barely removed from high school himself. He chronicles with absolute candor the flights and indignities of it all, including getting boners looking at students, drinking till he blacks out, his manic drive to lose his virginity, his compulsion to shoplift.

Right now he has flashed back to the time when his parents are in the middle of their divorce.  He is at his dad's new house, with his new girlfriend, their first time having dinner together after his dad moved out, and already he can see his dad's standards are slipping. His dad is getting drunker than usual, is letting Karl Ove drink himself, is praising his new girlfriend, and Karl Ove is testing his limits, drinking more than his dad had initially said he would be allowed to, smoking in front of his dad, trying to get a sense of the new lay of the land.

Yes, I remember this moment with my dad. It wasn't exactly the same, but there was much in common. My dad and I smoked pot together (though his weed was pretty shitty, it must be owned). We tried to interact as peers. It didn't really last for long.

In general, this is the effect of riding shotgun with Knausgaard as he relives his life: I remember mine. When he arrives in the village in the North of Norway and describes setting up his new home there, I was transported back somehow to arriving to graduate school at Columbia in 1991, moving into my new apartment. I remembered how the bookshelves I had brought, plain, old, dark particle board ones from mom's office, would barely fit into the elevator.  There was a moment we thought they wouldn't, but somehow we wedged them in there and cracked the cover on the elevator light.

I hadn't thought about that in many years. It is odd, this effect, and it happens on more substantial levels as well. I will keep reading.

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