My Struggle: Book 1 My Struggle discussion


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Open Reading Group -- My Struggle

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message 1: by Glenn (last edited Jan 26, 2015 02:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell This is a gripping first-person novel. The character's voice has all the hyper-charged sensitivity and intensity we experience when 19 years-old. I mean this as a great complement.

Anybody else reading this novel? Please post your comments, no matter how brief. Thanks in advance.


Donavan I've read all three volumes and am eagerly awaiting the publication of the fourth (and fifth and sixth). Knausgaard's other novel available in English, A Time for Everything, is excellent as well, especially when read in conjunction with volume two of My Struggle.


message 3: by Glenn (last edited Jan 27, 2015 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Donavan wrote: "I've read all three volumes and am eagerly awaiting the publication of the fourth (and fifth and sixth). Knausgaard's other novel available in English, A Time for Everything, is excellent as well,..."

Thanks, Donavan. A real treat reading your post as I just did sit down at my computer. I started making notes on the review I plan writing of Book 1 as per below. If you would care to share some of your thoughts, that would be great, since you have read 4 of his books. ----------

This first volume of the author’s novel captures episodes in his life, usually as a boy growing up but sometimes events in his 20s and 30s and also reflections as he is writing as a man in his 40s, through the sensitivity, intensity and sensibilities of a teenager. While this would probably be a formula for literary disaster if attempted by most writers, in the skillful hands of Mr. Knausgaard it is a formidable achievement. How does he do it? Darn, if I know, but, like a Cirque du Soleil juggler juggling 10 balls at once, Karl Ove makes it look so easy. You might ask: ‘Why can’t I do that?’ Well, go ahead and try! You will find out very quickly just how incredibly difficult such a feat is to pull off. For example, he mixes this hyper-sensitivity with both light and dark humor as he sits at his writing desk and projects the public pondering his death, and captures the flavor in a number of wonderfully whimsical poems.

And why have many reviewers described Knausgaard’s writing as gripping and riveting? I think the answer in large measure lies in the fact that the author’s writing reawakens the reader’s own forgotten teenager years with all their sensitivity, intensity, insecurity and hormonal topsy-turvy.


Donavan True. As I read volume 1, I thought how strange it was that a Norwegian (almost my exact age) would have precisely the same sort of experiences and musical tastes as a farmboy from rural Oklahoma. And this before the homogenization of Internet culture. I could have been reading my biography.

And you're right that there is more than meets the eye about the seductively simple prose. In his public talks about the book he puts on a show that the writing is "bad", but I think this is part of his act.


Glenn Russell Donavan wrote: "True. As I read volume 1, I thought how strange it was that a Norwegian (almost my exact age) would have precisely the same sort of experiences and musical tastes as a farmboy from rural Oklahoma. ..."

Thanks. That's quite something about the connection you experienced. You might be interested in the audiobook via audible.com of Book 1. Here is a link where you can listen to a sample:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/My-...


Donavan I read your review. I noted that you don't say much about the father / son relationship, nor comment on Knausgaard's meditations on death and its meaning.


message 7: by Glenn (last edited Jan 29, 2015 04:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Donavan wrote: "I read your review. I noted that you don't say much about the father / son relationship, nor comment on Knausgaard's meditations on death and its meaning."

Thanks so much for reading my review, Donavan. That's right -- I wanted to focus on his intense narrative voice and how readers will reawaken their own teenage years. I didn't want to dwell on a particular relationship, his father or anybody else. Likewise with his musing on death, other than noting his short poems. I try to keep my reviews on the short side. But occasionally I go back and revise my reviews. I will keep what you say in mind and might, at some time, expand this one a bit.

Thanks again.


message 8: by Lee (last edited Feb 03, 2015 06:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee I'm about halfway through. I'd say it's okay so far, but not the earth-shattering experience it's been hyped up to be. I'm about the age of the author and am also a father, so I understand the life he's living. For me, reading this book is like listening to a stranger's story and nodding while he speaks because I've been through very similar things. I certainly don't feel enthralled like I might if I were listening to someone's story which is very different from my own.

I also wonder why many people consider this a novel. It seems to fit very squarely within the tradition of the memoir.


message 9: by Glenn (last edited Feb 03, 2015 09:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Lee wrote: "I'm about halfway through. I'd say it's okay so far, but not the earth-shattering experience it's been hyped up to be. I'm about the age of the author and am also a father, so I understand the life..."

Thanks for the post, Lee. Yes, I can see where some people will connect with the book and others not so much so.

From my own reading, it isn't so much the detail of his life that is unique; rather, it is his ability to touch the details and all his experience with the voice/sensitivity of the tumultuous teenage years. Many readers tune into Knausgaard's voice and have their own teenage experience reawakened (this dynamic is what I highlighted in my review of the book). Thus, the book has a special power for those readers. However, this being said, connecting with an author's narrative voice is a matter of personal taste and inclination.

One big advantage of writing a novel rather than a memoir is the author can take certain liberties with the bare facts. Novelists don't let the facts stand in the way of a good story! :) For example, novelists can change the names of characters to protect the not-so-innocent. I suspect some of this contributes to Knausgaard calling his work a novel.


message 10: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita I just finished this book and it was good enough that I'm going to read the next one. While I understand why he chose to write a novel rather than a memoir, I'm not sure why he wanted is to be a semi-memoir--why not just a novel or just a memoir?

(I'm an old lady and couldn't relate to the writer at all, but always enjoy a good story with good character development, which I definitely saw in this novel.)


Glenn Russell Anita wrote: "I just finished this book and it was good enough that I'm going to read the next one. While I understand why he chose to write a novel rather than a memoir, I'm not sure why he wanted is to be a s..."

Great news! Glad you enjoyed. Hope you enjoy Book Two as well.


message 12: by Marsha (last edited Nov 15, 2015 04:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marsha Hartung I have read the first three books of this series. I find Knausgaard supremely adept at allowing us to feel what he felt, see what he saw, and think what he thought at different stages of his life. His life, by the way, is not so different than most of our lives; he experienced come very difficult situations, but I've known people who have lived through much worse, myself, for instance. But could I have written about washing dishes and disinfecting my grandmother's house and made it sound fascinating? No, I doubt that. And he's such a moaning, groaning crybaby! That's an unusual hook. I look forward to the remaining volumes.


Glenn Russell Marsha wrote: "I have read the first three books of this series. I find Knausgaard supremely adept at allowing us to feel what he felt, see what he saw, and think what he thought at different stages of his life. ..."

Thanks, Marsha. Yes, Karl Ove's experience is, in many ways, our experience. I wrote a review of Book 1 where I really underscored this feature of his writing, noting how it is almost like we are reading our own autobiography.


message 14: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Glenn wrote: "Marsha wrote: "I have read the first three books of this series. I find Knausgaard supremely adept at allowing us to feel what he felt, see what he saw, and think what he thought at different stage..."
Glenn, I've read the first two volumes, thought them awesome. If I ever met this author face-to-face I would be uncomfortable for 2 reasons: 1) I'd feel like I knew this man better than anyone I've ever met and 2) at the same time, weirdly, it would be like looking into a mirror. Fabulous reading experience.


Glenn Russell Greg wrote: "Glenn wrote: "Marsha wrote: "I have read the first three books of this series. I find Knausgaard supremely adept at allowing us to feel what he felt, see what he saw, and think what he thought at d..."

Thanks, Greg! Love every word of your post!!


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