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So Frank

Sheila Heti: Meeting Knausgaard

9 January 2014
My Struggle: Book 2. A Man in Love 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Vintage, 544 pp., £8.99, October 2013, 978 0 09 955517 9
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... Last year, I happened to meet the Norwegian writer KarlOveKnausgaard. I had just read part of Book 1 of My Struggle, his six-volume autobiographical series, and in a scene that imprinted itself on my memory – a scene from his childhood, set on New Year’s Eve ...

Each Cornflake

Ben Lerner: Knausgaard, Vol. 3

21 May 2014
My Struggle: Vol. 3. Boyhood Island 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 490 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 1 84655 722 4
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... Does​ KarlOveKnausgaard have a style? His sentences, while often long, are not elaborate; they can read like lists. ‘Infamously direct’, is how his English publisher puts it. He has a tendency towards cliché: news is ...

Can we eat them?

Rivka Galchen: Knausgaard’s ‘Seasons Quartet’

24 January 2019
Autumn 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 240 pp., £16.99, August 2017, 978 1 910701 63 8
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Winter 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 272 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 1 910701 65 2
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Spring 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 192 pp., £16.99, February 2018, 978 1 910701 67 6
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Summer 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 416 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910701 69 0
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... sign of dangerously high blood pressure. Lowell made his last Venus observations in 1914, and he died of a brain haemorrhage two years later. This sounds more associatively dire than it should. But KarlOveKnausgaard’s Seasons Quartet puts the reader in a highly associative state of mind. Autumn, which begins the project, announces itself as a letter to an unborn daughter, Knausgaard’s soon to ...

Dad’s Going to Sue

Christopher Tayler: ‘My Struggle’

5 April 2012
A Death in the Family: My Struggle: Vol. I 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 393 pp., £17.99, March 2012, 978 1 84655 467 4
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... KarlOveKnausgaard’s first two novels, Out of the World (Ute av verden, 1998) and A Time to Every Purpose under Heaven (En tid for alt, 2004), attracted admiring reviews and won prizes. ‘I was discussed,’ he told ...

Itemised

Fredric Jameson

8 November 2018
My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... in their own right, such as waiting to see what the uncle will actually do, besides writing vicious emails. So in fact, if you really want to know what happens in this book, what happens is that KarlOve writes, or is distracted by his family from writing, or has to get away for a few weeks to write, etc. We know what he wrote, of course, because it is in the other volumes; but here we do not yet ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means

10 August 2016
Hystopia 
by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... published at a time when all the big books were big books: the sternum-bruising heavies like Infinite Jest and Underworld and 2666, the multi-volume massifs by Hilary Mantel, Elena Ferrante and KarlOveKnausgaard. Did it matter that Means (with his wife) was the dedicatee of one of the most celebrated megaliths of the past quarter-century, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections? Of course not. Or ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies

12 July 2017
... to us; it actively pursues us. These phenomena have extended well beyond the limits of any particular digital platform, producing a more diffuse cultural logic. This is manifest in the novels of KarlOveKnausgaard, or Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood, where the ‘big data’ mentality of capturing every biographical detail over time is elevated to an artform. This cultural epoch introduces a ...

Still messing with our heads

Christopher Clark: Hitler in the Head

7 November 2019
Hitler: A Life 
by Peter Longerich.
Oxford, 1324 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 19 879609 1
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Hitler: Only the World Was Enough 
by Brendan Simms.
Allen Lane, 668 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 1 84614 247 5
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... Something​ very strange happens in the middle of The End, the sixth and last volume of KarlOveKnausgaard’s titanic work of self-description. At around page 482, the book swerves away from scenes of family and social life, and plunges, like a car crashing through a safety barrier, into a prolonged ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real

18 December 2014
... and this is the duty and stake of writing. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about reality in fiction, or reality versus fiction. Take the many articles about the ‘true’ writings of KarlOveKnausgaard, or the huge amount of attention paid to David Shields’s polemic Reality Hunger. Time and again we hear about a new desire for the real, about a realism which is realistic set ...
9 February 2020
... the rise of the algo-lie has coincided almost exactly with the rise of what’s often called autofiction – narratives that appear painstakingly to relate the lived experiences of their authors. KarlOveKnausgaard’s My Struggle, the overweight apogee of the form, is grounded in a realism so thoroughgoing and full of circumstantial actuality that we may as well call it ‘punitive realism ...

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