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So Frank

Sheila Heti: Meeting Knausgaard

9 January 2014
My Struggle: Book 2. A Man in Love 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, 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 Karl OveKnausgaard. 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 before he heads out with his friends – he steps into the family kitchen: I got up, grabbed the orange peel, went into the kitchen, where mum was scrubbing potatoes, opened the cupboard beside her and dropped the peel in the wastebin, watched dad walk across the drive, running a hand through his hair in that characteristic way of his, after which I went upstairs to my room, closed the door behind me, put on a record and lay down on my bed again ...

Each Cornflake

Ben Lerner: Knausgaard, Vol. 3

21 May 2014
My Struggle: Vol. 3. Boyhood Island 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 490 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 1 84655 722 4
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... Does​ Karl OveKnausgaard 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 always spreading like wildfire, and so on. The writing, precisely where it aspires to the literary, can be sloppy: ‘The warm, bright September days were summer’s last burst of energy before abruptly crumbling ...

Can we eat them?

Rivka Galchen: Knausgaard’s ‘Seasons Quartet’

24 January 2019
Autumn 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 240 pp., £16.99, August 2017, 978 1 910701 63 8
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Winter 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 272 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 1 910701 65 2
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Spring 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 192 pp., £16.99, February 2018, 978 1 910701 67 6
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Summer 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 416 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910701 69 0
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... of a brain haemorrhage two years later. This sounds more associatively dire than it should. But Karl OveKnausgaard’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, ...

Dad’s Going to Sue

Christopher Tayler: ‘My Struggle’

5 April 2012
A Death in the Family: My Struggle: Vol. I 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 393 pp., £17.99, March 2012, 978 1 84655 467 4
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... Karl OveKnausgaard’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 the Telegraph recently, ‘but as you discuss literature – in a kind of sober way ...

Itemised

Fredric Jameson

8 November 2018
My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... A well-known writer came over. We said hello, I was embarrassed, I knew he didn’t like what I wrote. He had mentioned this once and been ironic, which made this even harder. But he didn’t want to say just hello and congratulate me, he wanted to talk, and he spent at least five minutes refining his attitude to me and my books, he couldn’t say straight out that he didn’t like them, that they were bad in other words, but nor could he not say that, so what came out of his mouth was impossible to grasp because I didn’t understand the basis ...

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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... David Means​ wrote a novel. David Means wrote a novel! Reading the hype around Hystopia – the new novel, the first novel, so far the only novel by the American writer David Means – you have to wonder how much pressure Means resisted from his publishers to forswear the pleasures of the customary gnomic cipher (American Enchiridion, The Accidental Occidental) and just call the book that: David Means Wrote a Novel: A Novel Written by David Means ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies

12 July 2017
... can be retrieved from the past – a fact that hasn’t escaped consumer credit-rating firms or government border agencies. YouTube, Spotify, Google Books and so on put decades’ worth, sometimes centuries’ worth, of ‘content’ at our fingertips. One effect of this is the compression of historical time. ‘Is it really fifty years since Sergeant ...

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 Karl OveKnausgaard’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 reflection on Adolf Hitler ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real

18 December 2014
... of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality. The paragraphs that follow are a little ...
20 February 2020
... the double of the author, who creates circumstantially plausible narratives which elicit overwhelming emotions in his audience. The figure of the liar acquires additional strength from the fact that liars – like Zeus, like Agamemnon, and like most authors – know or think they know what is likely to move their ...

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