My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love (My Struggle, #2) My Struggle discussion


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Open Forum for anyone to post -- My Struggle Book 2

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Glenn Russell Oh, Karl Ove, you capture the heart-break of the lovesick, hypersensitive teenager that speaks to our own lost teenage years. And thanks for Book 2, writing of your life during your 20s and 30s, married, raising children, dealing with our modern world and society.

I’m about 25% of the way through. If anybody is currently reading or has read and would care to post, please feel free. I will be posting over the next week or two or three as I continue reading.


Mike I finished book 2 last week, and am very excited to be attending a reading by the man himself tonight. Like most people, I was suspicious about this project when I first heard about it (really, a six volume book about yourself - narcissistic much?), but he capture life, in all its beauty, terror, and confusion, so perfectly.


message 3: by Glenn (last edited May 06, 2015 05:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Mike wrote: "I finished book 2 last week, and am very excited to be attending a reading by the man himself tonight. Like most people, I was suspicious about this project when I first heard about it (really, a s..."

Hey Mike,

I agree -- a reader might think very self-centered but Karl Ove is able to tap into the culture's pulse and our collective human experience of the modern world -- reading his books is almost like reading your own autobiography.

Lucky you! A quick Goggle search tells me he is giving his reading this evening in Brooklyn. I suspect it is sold out and has been for some time. Anyway, if it isn't asking to much from a fellow fan, could you possibly post a word or two or as much as you would like about your experience? Much appreciated.


Mike Hi Glenn: I'll be seeing him at this event at Symphony Space tonight. Will definitely post an update tomorrow!
http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/85...


Glenn Russell Mike wrote: "Hi Glenn: I'll be seeing him at this event at Symphony Space tonight. Will definitely post an update tomorrow!
http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/85......"


Super, Mike! Looking forward to your update. Have a great time with Karl Ove at Symphony Space -- maybe he will play his old guitar from high school as a warm-up to his reading!


message 6: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa I have fallen in love with his books. I started with Book 4 which was just released and I am about half way through Book 1. My husband is reading and enjoying them too! I wish he were doing more tour dates!


Glenn Russell Melissa wrote: "I have fallen in love with his books. I started with Book 4 which was just released and I am about half way through Book 1. My husband is reading and enjoying them too! I wish he were doing more..."

Thanks so much for your post, Melissa. I agree, very easy to fall in love with Karl Ove's books.

And, yes, his books are picking up serious momentum here in the states. Soon, the organizers might need indoor stadiums to hold all of his fans. The good news is: Book 5 & Book 6 of My Struggle should be translated into English fairly soon since they will sell like hotcakes. Also, one big advantage of our Brave New 21st century World -- we can watch and hear him on Youtube.


message 8: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa I was wondering when books 5 and 6 will be coming out in English! I am hoping it's fairly soon!


Glenn Russell Melissa wrote: "I was wondering when books 5 and 6 will be coming out in English! I am hoping it's fairly soon!"

I would think so! Publishers love to make money and they certainly will make money in the states with Book 5 and 6, lots of money.


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike The evening with Karl Ove was fantastic - no guitar, though! He opened with an anecdote about reading "Ulysses" for the first time when he was a teenager. He had heard that it was a "modernist" novel, so he expected it to be about planes and skyscrapers. Thus, he was utterly confused when reading it. He said that he reads to forget himself, and he learned that was the trick to writing too - write so that you forget yourself. That is to say, you are so deeply immersed in your writing that you forget everything else. There was an extended reading from volume 4 by actor Corey Stoll, followed by the signing itself. Karl Ove was very droll and engaging in person - he portrays himself as being uncomfortable around people, but that seems to be an exaggeration. If he comes to your neighborhood, I highly recommend you attend.


message 11: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa Thanks for the description! I am so jealous, I would love to hear him speak in person.


message 12: by Glenn (last edited May 07, 2015 09:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Mike wrote: "The evening with Karl Ove was fantastic - no guitar, though! He opened with an anecdote about reading "Ulysses" for the first time when he was a teenager. He had heard that it was a "modernist" nov..."

Thanks so much, Mike.

Karl Ove's saying how his reading and writing is a 'forgetting himself'. Yea, man -- that's the power of human creativity and imagination -- to enter that zone where we transcend our everyday selves with all our petty regrets and worries. Ah, the beauty of art and literature.

And, yes, a modern phenomenon, where a writer becomes famous and then is pressed into the role of being a very public figure. Some writers like the spotlight; others hate it.


message 13: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike That's true, Glenn. Karl Ove definitely seemed uncomfortable during the general Q&A, but he was extremely warm one-on-one during the book-signing part of the evening. I asked him about Joyce - he says he still reads Ulysses once a year, but has never tried Finnegan's Wake. He said that Finnegan's Wake would be his choice for the one book to take to a deserted island, as then he'd finally be forced to read it.


Glenn Russell Mike wrote: "That's true, Glenn. Karl Ove definitely seemed uncomfortable during the general Q&A, but he was extremely warm one-on-one during the book-signing part of the evening. I asked him about Joyce - he s..."

Thanks, Mike. Great you had some one-on-one time to ask your question and hear Karl Ove's provocative answer.


message 15: by Glenn (last edited May 07, 2015 04:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Here is a section of Book 2 I found particularly insightful:

Page 67: Karl Ove reflects on his dealings with the people in his life: he tells us when he is with other people, he feels empathetic and bound to them; but when he is by himself, his feelings for those people dissolve. “Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, not something that was meaningful or that made me happy. . . . I always longed to be away from it. So the life I led was not my own. I tried to make it mine, that was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts. What was the problem? Was it the shrill, sickly tone I heard everywhere that I couldn’t stand, the one that arose from all the pseudopeople and pseudoplaces, pseudoevents, and psudoconflicts our lives passed through, that which we saw but did not participate in, and the distance that modern life in this way had opened up to our own, actually inalienable here and now? If so, if it was more reality, more involvement I longed for, surely it should be that which I was surrounded by that I should be embracing?”

This is but a sliver of Karl Ove’s musing at the time on the dynamics of living an everyday urban life as husband, father, friend, acquaintance; he continues for several pages, expanding on such topics as our standardized, homogenized shrinking world until he is obliged to participate in his daughter’s Rhythm Time class, an experience he finds to be one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences of his life -- he feels a powerful, passionate, sexual attraction to the graceful, gorgeous Rhythm Time teacher but also feels completely humiliated sitting on the floor, shaking a rattle and singing children's songs. It’s this linking the details of his own experience and conflicted feelings with a broader philosophizing on society and culture, art and literature, I find so compelling.


message 16: by Glenn (last edited May 08, 2015 11:45AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell Page 99 --- “For who brooded over the meaninglessness of life anymore? Teenagers? They were the only ones who were preoccupied with existential issues, and as a result there was something puerile and immature about them, and hence it was doubly impossible for adults with their sense of propriety intact to deal with them. However, this is not so strange, for we never feel more strongly and passionately about life than in our teenage years, when we step into the world for the first time, as it were, and all our feelings are new feelings. So there they are, with their big ideas on small orbits, looking this way and that for an opportunity to launch them, as the pressure builds. And who is it they light upon sooner or later by Uncle Dostoyevsky? Dostoyevsky has become a teenager’s writer, the issue of nihilism a teenager issue.”

Ironically, the many pages of this book are filled to the brim with brooding on existential issues, forever questioning the meaning and meaninglessness of life, as if the author’s feelings are perpetually new feelings, as if every morning he steps into the world for the first time with all the awkwardness, discomfort, unease and even clumsiness of a teenager unhesitatingly opening his heart to the frequent hard edges and occasional tenderness of those around him.


message 17: by Glenn (last edited May 11, 2015 05:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glenn Russell The author reminds me of those characters from the novels of Dostoyevsky swept up in the intensity of the moment, who say in a gush of emotional frenzy, ‘to hell with the future’ and stack all of their chips on one spin of the roulette wheel or burn their life savings in a fire. For example, here is Karl Ove back in his room, totally drunk, after hearing a woman he loves tell him sorry, she’s not interested. “I went into the bathroom, grabbed the glass on the sink and hurled it at the wall with all the strength I could muster. I waited to hear if there was any reaction. Then I took the biggest shard I could find and started cutting my face. I did it methodically, making the cuts as deep as I could, and covered my whole face. The chin, cheeks, forehead, nose, underneath the chin. At regular intervals I wiped away the blood with a towel. Kept cutting. Wiped the blood away. But the time I was satisfied with my handiwork there was hardly room for one more cut, and I went to bed.”

Judging from his recent photos, perhaps I’m missing something but I don't see any evidence of a face that has been cut to shreds. One beauty of a novel as literary form is the author has the latitude, even in an autobiographical novel like this one (from what I’ve read, many of his extended family refuse to have anything to do with him!), to create imaginatively. And this play of creative imagination makes all the difference. Although Karl Ove draws explicitly from his own life—the first-person narrator is named Karl Ove Knausgaard, and he uses the real names of his wife, children, parents, and friends, I am reading this work as a novel, since I sense a good portion is embellished and simply made-up.

Made-up or real, in the end, this is a novel of emotional extremes. Linda, the love of his Karl Ove’s life, breaths hot-blooded fire: melodramatic, mercurial, quick-tempered and occasionally violent and destructive. Yet these two lovers marry and have three children. And with every child the marital fire rages with more ferociously. How on earth do they do it? 600 pages of Book 2 tells the tale.


message 18: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike I was face-to-face with Karl Ove last week, as you know, and his face bears no traces of these cuts (they must have been much lighter than he represents them, if indeed he made them at all). In fact, he is unexpectedly handsome in real life (as my wife repeatedly reminds me).


Glenn Russell Mike wrote: "I was face-to-face with Karl Ove last week, as you know, and his face bears no traces of these cuts (they must have been much lighter than he represents them, if indeed he made them at all). In fac..."

Thanks so much for letting me know. I plan to make reference to that face cutting and how My Struggle is, in fact, a novel not an autobiography, when I write the final version of my review of this book.


message 20: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Will be interested to read it, Glenn. Thinking about how much he embellishes or outright invents: There's a detail about his mother-in-law, that he reveals late in book 2, that is just jaw-dropping. Like, I cannot believe his marriage would survive this public revelation. If he does indeed embellish or outright make some stuff up, I can only hope this detail was made up, though either way, it's a major humiliation for his in-laws. I am not surprised to hear you say that members of his extended family no longer speak to him.


message 21: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa Mike wrote: "I was face-to-face with Karl Ove last week, as you know, and his face bears no traces of these cuts (they must have been much lighter than he represents them, if indeed he made them at all). In fac..."

I have to agree with your wife, Mike :)


message 22: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Melissa wrote: "Mike wrote: "I was face-to-face with Karl Ove last week, as you know, and his face bears no traces of these cuts (they must have been much lighter than he represents them, if indeed he made them at..."
If I ever have the pleasure of meeting Karl Ove, I don't think I could get past his eyes, as I'd be thinking, "It seems I know you better than me." It'd be weird. Fabulously odd. Volume 3 next! And then, alas, only three more! But I'd love to spend this December, 2015 with the final volumes.


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