My Struggle, Book 1

My Struggle, Book 1

4.2 12
by Karl Ove Knausgaard
     
 

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Winner of the 2009 Brage Prize, the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, the 2010 P2 Listeners' Prize, and the 2004 Norwegian Critics' Prize and nominated for the 2010 Nordic Council Literary Prize.

"No one in his generation equals Knausgaard."—Dagens Næringsliv

"A tremendous piece of literature."—Politiken

Overview

Winner of the 2009 Brage Prize, the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, the 2010 P2 Listeners' Prize, and the 2004 Norwegian Critics' Prize and nominated for the 2010 Nordic Council Literary Prize.

"No one in his generation equals Knausgaard."—Dagens Næringsliv

"A tremendous piece of literature."—Politiken (Denmark)

To the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops. Sooner or later, one day or another, this thumping motion shuts down of its own accord. . . . The changes of these first hours happen so slowly and are performed with such an inevitability that there is almost a touch of ritual about them, as if life capitulates according to set rules, a kind of gentleman's agreement.

Almost ten years have passed since Karl O. Knausgaard's father drank himself to death. He is now embarking on his third novel while haunted by self-doubt. Knausgaard breaks his own life story down to its elementary particles, often recreating memories in real time, blending recollections of images and conversation with profound questions in a remarkable way. Knausgaard probes into his past, dissecting struggles—great and small—with great candor and vitality. Articulating universal dilemmas, this Proustian masterpiece opens a window into one of the most original minds writing today.

Karl O. Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of This World won the Norwegian Critics' Prize and his A Time for Everything was nominated for the Nordic Council Prize.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Knausgaard's perplexing autobiographical third novel (after A Time for Everything) is by turns a coming of age story—told in fits and starts—and a philosophical exploration of what it means to be a son, brother, and writer. The first in a series of six, this work is at its melancholy best when ruminating on how to survive in a world too minutely examined to trust or love: on the first page, the narrator's focus shifts in a moment from a sentimental note on the life of the heart to an outline of the physical processes of bodily decomposition. And though Knausgaard's sprawling story is rife with vital energies—flitting from the discoveries of childhood to the meditations of a more mature man—death's presence is palpable throughout: Karl's attention is constantly drawn toward the vanishing point of his late estranged, alcoholic father. A profusion of quotidian ephemera—from binge drinking to cigarette after cigarette—serves to highlight the incommensurability of death in light of the banality of life. Though light on plot (or perhaps heavy on it, depending on a reader's estimation of hyperrealist saturation as constituting a storyline), Knausgaard's gorgeous prose and enthralling reflections make this tome a rewarding struggle. (May)
From the Publisher
Steadily absorbing, lit up by pages of startling insight and harrowing honesty, My Struggle introduces into world literature a singular character and immerses us in his fascinating Underground Man consciousness. —Phillip Lopate

Intense and vital . . . So powerfully alive to death . . . Where many contemporary writers would reflexively turn to irony, Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties. . . The need for totality . . . brings superb, lingering, celestial passages . . . He wants us to inhabit the ordinariness of life, which is sometimes vivid, sometimes banal, and sometimes momentous, but all of it perforce ordinary because it happens in the course of a life, and happens, in different forms, to everyone. . . The concluding sentences of the book [are] placid, plain, achieved. They have what Walter Benjamin called ‘the epic side of truth, wisdom.' —James Wood, The New Yorker

A profusion of quotidian ephemera—from binge drinking to cigarette after cigarette—serves to highlight the incommensurability of death in light of the banality of life...Knausgaard's gorgeous prose and enthralling reflections make this tome a rewarding struggle. —Publishers Weekly

It's a lucky reader who gets buried alive in this Norwegian literary avalanche. [My Struggle] is a free-wheeling, funny, smart, provocative, 471-page chunk of narrative that just keeps on coming. —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

The level of detail is the main fictioneering touch...but there’s a feeling that something portentous is lurking behind the accumulating descriptions of unremarkable events. —Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books

The New Yorker (selected as one of the Books of th James Wood

Powerfully alive . . . Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties . . . He wants us to inhabit the ordinariness of life, which is sometimes visionary, sometimes banal, and sometimes momentous, but all of it perforce ordinary because it happens in the course of a life, and happens, in different forms, to everyone . . . There is something ceaselessly compelling about Knausgaard's book.
Kirkus Review
★ 2015-01-29
A Norwegian novelist plumbs his interior life, particularly his troubled relationship with his late father, in this curiously affecting opening to a multipart epic. "Epic," though, may not be quite the right word to apply to what Knausgaard (Out of This World, 2005; A Time for Everything, 2009), has accomplished. Though the book, a bestseller in his homeland, is composed of six volumes, its focus is on the author's quotidian, banal, sometimes-frivolous experiences. One extended sequence follows his ham-handed interview as a teenager of a well-known Norwegian author; another covers his ham-handed attempt to play in a rock band; another tracks his ham-handed efforts to get to a New Year's Eve party. Sense a pattern? Knausgaard is emotionally clumsy to be sure, but remarkably, almost miraculously, his novel never comes off as a plea for sympathy, as so many memoirs (or memoir-novels) are. He means to strip experiences and emotional responses to their bare essences, and over time, the book evokes a feeling of fully inhabiting a character that typical rhetorical somersaulting often doesn't. That's not to say the storytelling is aimless or can't be emotionally piercing: The book concludes with a long section of Karl Ove and his brother, Yngve, clearing out their alcoholic father's rural home while minding their grandmother, who appears to be succumbing to alcoholism herself. Scrubbing down the impossibly filthy home is dry stuff on the sentence level ("I filled the bucket with water, took a bottle of Klorin, a bottle of green soap and a bottle of Jif scouring cream…"), but the slow accrual of detail masterfully evokes the slow effort to reckon with the past. The title, with its echo of Hitler's memoir, is a provocation, but a considered one—Knausgaard's reckoning with his past is no less serious for lacking drama and outsize tragedy. A simple and surprising effort to capture everyday life that rewards the time given to it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935744184
Publisher:
Steerforth Press
Publication date:
04/13/2012
Series:
My Struggle Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
430
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops. Sooner or later, one day, this pounding action will cease of its own accord, and the blood will begin to run towards the body’s lowest point, where it will collect in a small pool, visible from outside as a dark, soft patch on ever whitening skin, as the temperature sinks, the limbs stiffen and the intestines drain. These changes in the first hours occur so slowly and take place with such inexorability that there is something almost ritualistic about them...

Meet the Author

Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of This World won the Norwegian Critics Prize in 2004 and his A Time for Everything (Archipelago) was a finalist for the Nordic Council Prize. For My Struggle, Knausgaard received the Brage Award in 2009 (for Book One), the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, and the P2 Listeners’ Prize. My Struggle has been translated into more than fifteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and three children. Don Bartlett has translated dozens of books of various genres, including eight novels and short story collections by Jo Nesbø and It’s Fine by Me by Per Petterson. He lives in Norfolk, England.

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My Struggle Book 1 4.2 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a powerful read.....he touches on so many life issues we all face, even though imore of a memoir. It stays with you, and I have just purchased vol 2
Maertel More than 1 year ago
Despite the awful title, whose significance I still don't get since the author is not a Nazi, I loved reading this book every night UNTIL Karl Ove and his brother arrived at Grandma's after their father's death. They spent days and nights super-cleaning the house, but allowed this very old woman to sit and sleep in her own urine, day and night without doing anything to help her and to prevent a steady stream of pee moving through her house. And why?  They had many decent alternatives: re-hire the Home Assistant that her son had ordered, get her to a doctor, ask Tove to personally assist her, and to call and get one or both of their wives to come and take over.  This was a horrible situation and a dreadful ending to an otherwise great book.  Why not take care of the grieving human before dealing with the filthy house?
Anonymous 3 months ago
More than a memoir, he writes of his thoughts and his journey. Extremely powerful and very easy to read although it was so well written that I wanted to take my time and savor every word. ~*~LEB~*~
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Sahaj More than 1 year ago
Incredible. I could not put this down, and when finished I immediately took up volume two. An utterly compelling writing style. I highly recommend this!
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