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My Struggle: Book Three

(Min kamp #3)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  11,961 ratings  ·  939 reviews
A family of four--mother, father and two boys--move to the South Coast of Norway to a new house on a newly developed site. It is the early 1970s and the family's trajectory, upwardly mobile: the future seems limitless. In painstaking, sometimes self-lacerating detail, Knausgaard paints a world familiar to anyone who can recall the intensity and novelty of childhood experie ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 432 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Archipelago (first published 2009)
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Manny I would say volume 3 can be read on its own. There are some forward references in vol 1, but some people may actually prefer to skip it: the main effe…moreI would say volume 3 can be read on its own. There are some forward references in vol 1, but some people may actually prefer to skip it: the main effect is that you know several plot points in advance. This is presumably intentional, but if you aren't concerned about the author's complicated master plan then you probably won't worry too much...(less)
Jamie McCrory The problem is that many books written from a child's POV often sound as if they are written for children. Two exception other than Boyhood Island is …moreThe problem is that many books written from a child's POV often sound as if they are written for children. Two exception other than Boyhood Island is Galloway Street by John Boyle and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Galloway Street is covered in some English Literature degrees as a poignant example of the child's point of view. He also wrote Laff which is an adolescent POV.(less)

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[from Min kamp 2]

Having now reached the halfway point in this controversial novel, I can't resist the temptation to speculate a little on the subject of what it's actually about. Contrary to what some people think, it is clearly about something: it's not a blog, or 3500 pages of free association. There's a definite structure, even if it is oddly difficult to say just what that structure is.

(view spoiler)
Eddie Watkins
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am grateful that I mistrust my own opinions. Even with the first two volumes of My Struggle under my belt, I would have quickly abandoned volume three if I trusted my first impressions. Not that three is fundamentally different than one and two, but Knausgaard’s prose in these books is simply like nothing else I read, and as it had been a while since I read him I reacted too quickly to his difference without allowing my reading self to settle into it. His prose can read as flat and uninspired, ...more
Adam Dalva
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a far more linear experience (there are only two contemporary interjections) than the first two volumes, and the structure is more conventional. This, I think, is because we are dealing here nearly exclusively with early childhood, and there is a great amount of generalization associated with that time. The feeling of that age is echoed in the writing, which takes on a different tenor here (abrupt sentences, heightened sensory description). K.O.K.'s father is as menacing as any father in ...more
Lee Klein
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Move over robins, tulips, pastels, and jelly beans, the appearance of a fresh volume of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard now marks the coming of spring and will continue do so in 2015, 2016, and 2017 as the final three books in the series appear in English in the United States, translated from the Norwegian by Donald Bartlett, published by Archipelago Books in signature squarish hard covers. Quick recap: My Struggle is a six-volume literary autobiography. Comparisons to Proust’s In Search of L ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
In the 3rd installment of his 6 Volume autobiographical romain fleuve, Karl Ove Knausgård shifts back in time to his grade school years in an interesting read, however less gut-wrenching than the first two books. The narration here is more linear (although with significant forward leaps which were occasionally disconcerting) than the other books, but still uses the typical KOK maniacally descriptive writing style. This particular tome has a bit of a more scatological focus which is sometimes int ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In many ways the third volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's fiercely-debated memoir is the smallest – in both its scope and in its physical size – and the most banal thus far. For a sequence of works which appear to be singlehandedly redefining the quality and value attached to banality in literature this no small feat. This section of the monumental work, published in the UK as Boyhood Island, focuses on Knausgaard’s life as a small child: his first experiences at school, his trips to the remote fa ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
"Time never goes as fast as in your childhood; an hour is never as short as it was then. Everything is open, you run here, you run there, do one thing, then another, and suddenly the sun has gone down and you find yourself standing in the twilight with time like a barrier that has suddenly gone down in front of you:"
-- Karl Ove Knausgård, My Struggle: Book Three: Boyhood Island


There is something mundane, yet otherworldly about Knausgård's third book. It exists on the island of Tromøy, a large i
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
If Karl Ove Knausgaard is Proust, which he isn’t, then Book Three of My Struggle is Combray. Evocation of childhood or adolescence is one of my favorite genres, be it film or novels or autobiography, and there are certainly tones here of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (my favorite film, if you haven’t seen it, get thee to a Netflixery), Spirit of the Beehive (there’s even a strangely familiar beekeeper scene in Book Three, almost as otherworldly as the one in Victor Erice’s masterpiece), Ratcatcher (r ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cannot think of another book I’ve encountered that so perfectly captures the ache of adolescence. Does it have something to do with the fact that Karl Ove and I both started jr high in the 1980s, giving a quite specific framework of references? Likely. But it goes far beyond that.

As a fellow ‘jessie’ of the same generation, I can’t but help project myself into much here. The physical pain of longing; the desire for recognition; the crying. My God, the crying—I wondered at the time if it would
In this third part, Knausgard simply presents a straight chronological story of his youth, from birth to the pre-pubertal phase. With lots of details, of course, as we are used to with him; and regularly he also repeats what he already wrote in part 1. The story is interesting as a time document and as a coming-of-age testimony, in which we see how the young Karl Ove struggles with the world around him and builds his own identity in interaction with others: his peers (the neighbourhood boys), th ...more
The third book in the Knausgaard saga explores Karl Ove’s boyhood. The family moves to the largest island in southern Norway, Tromøy, where Karl Ove's father teaches Norwegian in high school and his mother works with families experiencing trauma. Finally we learn why Karl Ove was so terrified of his father. The older brother Yngve now becomes the shadowy enigma we only glimpse but cannot see. Yngve is the essence of the older brother—a little dismissive of his younger sibling, but generally supp ...more
Even more stripped-down than A Man in Love; Boyhood Island hits only one note. Knausgård has abandoned the wider view; the generalised portrait of life at a distance, focusing exclusively on the microscopic details. In doing so he somehow remains eminently readable - his account is sympathetic; relatable, and rings every nostalgic bell. Yet there is something hollow and one-dimensional about this third book in the series, when compared to the vibrant, poignant and pathos-filled A Death in the Fa ...more
[continued from here]

At 15%. The sun sets early on October 21st on the Northern Hemisphere. Another day over. One of the roughly ninteenthousand I have spent so far in this life. No way to bring them back; unless you have a time machine; like a DeLorean, for instance, equipped with a Flux capacitor. Today they would arrive, Marty McFly and Doc Brown, if they were real. From tomorrow we can say that the story of Back to the Future is set in the past. I knew that thirty years ago, but I didn't thi
Justin Evans
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I had hoped to get in ahead of the backlash with a backlash to the backlash kind of thing, where I defend KOK against people who are tired of hearing about him. Well, too bad. Not only are the reviews of this volume uniformly positive (hence, no backlash yet), but I found it overwhelmingly boring. So, I am doubly stymied.

At the start of the book, KOK calls his childhood a ghetto-like state of incompleteness. He suggests that childhood is meaningfullish, but not really meaningful, because (yawn)
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is likely where many hopeful readers abandon the Min Kamp quest. The terrain is challenging enough, the sorting of childhood and all that baggage. This particular trek is slick with tears: Karl Ove cries on almost every page. There's a measure of Bernhard in this prevailing condition, this lachrymose loop.

This young protagonist is stuck in a longing, acceptance and materialism can be the devil to many a poor soul. The upward possibility of the time derails tradition, the encounters with th
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started out a little slow for me and I thought it wasn't going to hook me like the first two books, but I found myself quite engrossed in Karl Ove's early years. I questioned whether Knausgård's memory could really be this good to recall that far back in so much detail and then I remembered the kind of marks certain events left on me. My memory can be pretty pathetic, but I recall being somewhere around age 6 playing on the beach with a little girl I'd just met. We were ankle deep in the water a ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I humbly think that Knausgård's writing is about breaking walls. In this book he manages to break the wall between author and reader, while telling his boyhood story, committed to write it as non-literally as possible. The language in this volume becomes different, simple and unembellished, not childish though. Because metaphors and literary language, come after the experience, after childhood. The narrative turns to simple chronological memory association between events without the usual essays ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read book 1 and book 2. I am waiting for 3. Addicted. They say Norway is experiencing a spike in tourism due to the Frozen movie. Really? I want to take the Knausgaard tour with a 'Lillehammer' chaser. And poor Sweden. It sounds like Toronto with better scenery. ...more
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 stars) This third installment of Knausgård’s struggle is seen through the eyes of the child Karl Ove – as a seven-year-old boy, then a young adolescent – almost entirely unmediated by the adult Knausgård. We fill in some of the blanks left over from volume I and get to know his parents, his brother and his weepy young self more.

He evokes childhood down to the minutest, sometimes commonest, sometimes quirkiest details. We are invited to remember our own childhood – the joy of getting a new
Karl Ove Knausgard continues his intensely detailed portrayal of his life in My Struggle: Book Three. This book details his life from infancy (and slightly before!) to early adolescence.

The depiction of place in his childhood is vividly evoked, reminding us how for little children where they are is as important often as whom they are with and maybe more important than what they are doing. Each place has its meaning, personal and intense. As Karl Ove grows, people supplant place in importance an
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite Knausgaard so far. It can be read as a standalone memoir of childhood. I often wish I felt things as strongly as I did in childhood, such was the pleasure of each new experience. But Knausgaard reminds me that, just as pleasure was more intense then, so was pain. And boy, did childhood have a lot of emotional pain. On second thought, strike that wish. I wouldn't be able to take it.

A twelve year old boy can fall in love with as much intensity as a grown man can, even though h
Aug 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, bokm-l
This is truly a painful read in the best possible way. At first I admired the author's remarkable memory - he is, as ever, a joy to read no matter to what length and detail he goes to tell us about the most boring aspects of everyday life. Then I realised why he has got such a memory. His constant fear of his father, as foretold in the first volume, was omnipresent, a couple of times made explicit by the author himself, but mostly heart-grippingly painted with everything out of order a normal li ...more
Paul Fulcher
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Book 3 of 6 of Knausgaard's unique autobiographical novel, My Struggle, sees him turn to more commonly trodden turf, namely recollections of his childhood.

The uniqueness of the overall work lies in the minute detail in which Knausgaard recalls - or re imagines - even mundane aspects of his daily life. Knausgaard very much claims the books as novels, autobiography, saying 'It is an existential search where I use myself as raw material', but there is no attempt made to disguise names or reputatio
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been wondering why, when I read Knausgaard, I feel such a strong connection to his work. At first I believed it to be because of his thoughts and anxieties, those random bits I could relate to myself were indeed thrilling. But as I've read the third book in his series, I'm beginning to create a clearer answer for myself.

Knausgaard's work has become increasingly important to me, and as I began to read Book Three, I went into it thinking I would probably love it for the same vague reasons I
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the best depiction of childhood I have ever read (the second best being anything by Tarjei Vesaas--coincidence?). Knausgaard has a magical ability to evoke his own experience in a way that reads so incredibly real that it's shocking. And amazing. And usually stabs me so I'm bleeding all over the place. This time, though, I'm only trickling. I think it has to do with the content; his adult and teenage struggles were much more painful and pertinent to my own life. Still, he is able to pres ...more
Sorin Hadârcă
Welcome to the age of self-discovery and misery. Poor Karl Ove! That wasn't a happy childhood. Or, maybe, it's just me being forgetful. ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm upgrading this to five stars as I enjoyed it even more second time around.

Edit: and even more so, third time around.
Derrick Simerly
Aug 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite of the first 3 volumes, by a pretty wide margin for me. And the first 2 are really good books. The style and content of this one just really struck a chord with me.
Esther Espeland
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute treat to read while I was in Bergen, visiting the fjords and islands :)
Barksdale Penick
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get back into the pace of Knausgard in the third volume of his long series. I found some of his reflections about memory near the beginning of the book less than wholly original, as when he discusses a photograph and wonders whether he remembers the moment or whether the photograph has implanted the memory. But we eventually get on track with the story, which takes a step back in his life to his childhood, set in a housing development in the seventies when the world was cha ...more
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Nominated to the 2004 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize & awarded the 2004 Norwegian Critics’ Prize.

Karl Ove Knausgård (b. 1968) made his literary debut in 1998 with the widely acclaimed novel Out of the World, which was a great critical and commercial success and won him, as the first debut novel ever, The Norwegian Critics' Prize. He then went on to write six autobiographical novels, titled My S

Other books in the series

Min kamp (6 books)
  • Min kamp 1 (Min kamp #1)
  • Min kamp 2 (Min kamp #2)
  • Min kamp 4 (Min kamp #4)
  • Min kamp 5 (Min kamp #5)
  • Min kamp 6 (Min kamp #6)

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“Now they’re twenty-four and their real lives lie before them. Jobs of their own, a house of their own, children of their own. There are the two of them, and the future they are moving into is theirs, too.

Or is it?”
“Of course, I don’t remember any of this time. It is absolutely impossible to identify with the infant my parents photographed, indeed so impossible that it seems wrong to use the word “me” to describe what is lying on the changing table, for example, with unusually red skin, arms and legs spread, and a face distorted into a scream, the cause of which no one can remember, or on a sheepskin rug on the floor, wearing white pajamas, still red-faced, with large, dark eyes squinting slightly. Is this creature the same person as the one sitting here in Malmö writing? And will the forty-year-old creature who is sitting in Malmö writing this one overcast September day in a room filled with the drone of the traffic outside and the autumn wind howling through the old-fashioned ventilation system be the same as the gray, hunched geriatric who in forty years from now might be sitting dribbling and trembling in an old people’s home somewhere in the Swedish woods? Not to mention the corpse that at some point will be laid out on a bench in a morgue? Still known as Karl Ove. And isn’t it actually unbelievable that one simple name encompasses all of this? The fetus in the belly, the infant on the changing table, the forty-year-old in front of the computer, the old man in the chair, the corpse on the bench? Wouldn’t it be more natural to operate with several names since their identities and self-perceptions are so very different? Such that the fetus might be called Jens Ove, for example, and the infant Nils Ove, and the five- to ten-year-old Per Ove, the ten- to twelve-year-old Geir Ove, the twelve- to seventeen-year-old Kurt Ove, the seventeen- to twenty-three-year-old John Ove, the twenty-three- to thirty-two-year-old Tor Ove, the thirty-two- to forty-six-year-old Karl Ove — and so on and so forth? Then the first name would represent the distinctiveness of the age range, the middle name would represent continuity, and the last, family affiliation.” 4 likes
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