A Death In The Family revolutionised the way I thought about literature. The honesty, the transparency, in Knausgaard’s autobiographical prose astounded and blew me away. I was waiting, eagerly and impatiently, for the second volume to be released. I was not disappointed.
In this volume, Karl Ove picks apart what he views as the most important romantic relationship of his life – that with Linda, the mother of his three children. He talks about meeting her, falling in love with her, normalising/domesticating their love, the difficulties and responsibilities of child-rearing, etc etc, with his trademark searing honesty. Knausgaard evokes his life – and the lives of his friends and family – with incredible clarity. He talks about love and death and success and friendship and parenthood and literary appreciation and wants and needs and life and art and art as life and life as art and…
This book is long, it is often dense, and it often focuses on the mundane – Knausgaard is not the kind of writer who will eschew multiple tea-making, cigarette-rolling, coffee-buying, bookshop-browsing, nappy-changing, grocery-shopping scenes. These things happen to him more than once – why should they be ignored?
He discusses unhappiness and dissatisfaction and displacement and loneliness… He describes beautiful landscapes, dissects deep emotional bonds, does not fear appearing neurotic, mean, or selfish. He is open in his text and I would certainly recommend this as an example of good contemporary literature accurately conveying existence and life .* WHICH IS WHAT IT SHOULD DO.
Knausgaard’s prose is evocative, exploratory and entertaining. I laughed and cried at various points in the novel, as one should. Great art should always have the power to move. And this does, his prose does. I would say that anyone planning on reading this volume would do well to source his more obscure earlier work, A Time To Every Purpose Under Heaven, first, as it is discussed in detail.
An excellent second volume of six. I’m almost tempted to learn Norwegian so I can beat the current translator, Don Bartlett, to the job.
EVERYONE SHOULD READ KNAUSGAARD. BUY BUY BUY.
*Of my big pile of books to read, the contemporary novel I’m most looking forward to is How Should A Person Be?, another critically lauded autobiography/memoir/novel hybrid crossover. Yes I have a type.