Saturday, October 15, 2016

His struggle is my struggle

Just came to the end of volume 5 of Knausgaard's My Struggle. Surprised though I am, I eagerly await the finishing of the translation of and then publication of volume 6.  Somewhere in there I thought I had gotten sick of it, but then was miraculously refreshed by the narrative's return to relevance.

So over the course of this year I've now spent something like 2500 pages with Karl Ove, and have gone through most of the phases of his life with him, from the early days to the death of his father, with which began the "novel," and to which we have returned at the end of this tome.  I clearly strongly identify with his simultaneous attraction to and repulsion from his alcoholic father, though in his case his dad was clearly "irredeemable," to quote one of Hillary's more ridiculous statements from the campaign trail (if she can survive that, it's pretty amazing). The guy pretty literally drank himself to death, and the hints of violence around his death are never fully resolved. Might his mom have clocked him with a frying pan?  It's not inconceivable, though it's never explicitly suggested either.

The important thing in riding shotgun with Karl Ove is seeing how he reacts.  Let's recount some of the highlights of the last volume.

  1. His dad can't be bothered to show up at his wedding
  2. He gets jealous of his brother having a lively conversation with his soon-to-be bride at a bar, so, getting progressively drunker as the evening winds on, he goes in the bathroom and repeatedly cuts into his face with a shard of glass, but his brother and fiance don't notice till later
  3. His dad dies
  4. Just then, his first novel is published, after years of excruciating self-doubt, writer's block, and self-destructive blackout drinking.  It wins a big Norwegian Critics Prize. He still kind of thinks it's a piece of shit
  5. He descends into writer's block/alcoholic stupor again for a couple of years, and somewhere in there, wasted, he has a one-night stand which later comes out, not good for his marriage, but not (yet) fatal to it
Thankfully, I worked through the alcoholic part of the equation early in life, which helped me keep away from other ladies.  But I get a lot of this cycle. I totally feel him.  And it's hard not to, because he is laying it all out there in a degree of detail that is pretty incredible in every way.

Anyhoo, time to get ready for soccer.

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