A Man in Love - My Struggle 2 - Karl Ove Knausgaard

A Man in Love - My Struggle 2

by
Translated by Don Bartlett

Vintage
ISBN: 9780099555179

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Somewhere in the middle of the book, Karl Ove Knausgaard spends some twenty or so pages describing the day his wife gave birth to his first daughter, and those pages mostly are about her wife’s screaming her head off in pain every half an hour or so.

In this series of books, it does appear that Karl Ove Knausgaard has pulled of something writers and readers alike think is impossible, which is to write something so incredibly boring and not put readers off. I believe the secret to the success of the series is that it describing his daily struggle as a writer, a lover, a father, and everything else, there are always something that one could always relate to his or her own personal circumstances. As a writer, one could see the same struggle of juggling between one’s daily responsibilities and writing (or failing to write); as a lover, one could see the constant battle with one’s partner in less harmonious times; as a father, one could see the desire to become a good father while at times failing it. As cliché as this may sound, Karl Ove Knausgaard the character in this series of books is relatable, which is one of the criteria people often love to judge a piece of fiction, except in here, the line between fiction and memoir is blurred: Karl Ove Knausgaard is not just a character in his own books, he’s a real person.

And this is the paradox I find about this series of novels: as much as the author was motivated to write about his daily existence with absurd level of detail in hope to break free of the form of “fiction” as we know it, the book is ultimately about the struggle of a hero to win something and to become a better person. In this regard, even if Knausgaard may not want to admit it, this series of books still conforms to some aspects of the prototyptical story of “a hero fighting for something”. But that should never diminish the accomplishment of this series.

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Copyright © Peter Y. Chuang 2018

Peter Y. Chuang is a Hong Kong-born novelist and short story writer who’s lived in London and calls Berlin his spiritual home. He has completed the manuscript of a literary science fiction novel, Twenty Forty-Seven,” and is currently re-writing another literary novel, Only You Know What It Means.”