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My Struggle: Book 3

By Karl Ove Knausgaard & Don Bartlett
My Struggle: Book 3 by Karl Ove Knausgaard & Don Bartlett digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

The third volume —the book that made Karl Ove Knausgaard a phenomenon in the United States—in the addictive New York Times bestselling series, My Struggle.

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 is upwardly mobile: the future seems limitless. In painstaking, sometimes self-lacerating detail, Karl Ove Knausgaard paints a world familiar to anyone who can recall the intensity and novelty of childhood experience, one in which children and adults lead parallel lives that never meet.

Perhaps the most Proustian in the series, My Struggle: Book 3 gives us Knausgaard's vivid, technicolor recollections of childhood, his emerging self-understanding, and the multilayered nature of time's passing, memory, and existence.

4 Reviews

Anxious Face with sweat
Believable charactersDescriptive writingRealistic settingComing of age
“I first heard of Knausgård’s six-volume autobiographical series when doing thesis research on Elena Ferrante and the boundaries between fiction and autobiography. And, certainly, there’s a lot of blurring between fiction and reality happening here: Knausgård repeatedly claims to remember nothing from his childhood, then fills hundreds of pages with the minutia of his early years (sprinkled with a few essay-like tangents). When in the meat of Knausgård’s story—reading about his high school years, his complicated relationship with his father and brother—I was deeply engrossed. Knausgård also does a wonderful job displaying the coldness that patriarchy can engender in male relationships. The book overflows with moments when he cannot stop crying, yet the men around him do not offer a hug, a shoulder, a consoling word. It’s heartbreaking. Yet large swaths of My Struggle: Book 1 do not focus on these impactful moments, but veer into abstract observations on the nature of cities and Western burial practices. Some of these digressions work, but others pulled me too far from the narrative. More than once, I felt like he was trying (and failing) to be like Proust. Still, with all the reading and research I’ve done with autobiographical stories, this felt like an important one to add to my repertoire. Knausgård’s portrayal of himself is unique in that he’s unafraid to come across as a jerk, nor to show his family members in their lowest states. Which, considering his books have led to his uncle suing him and his wife having a psychotic break, opens up an entirely different discussion on the responsibility of the autobiographical writer to the people they portray…. “You know too little and it doesn’t exist. You know too much and it doesn’t exist. Writing is drawing the essence of what we know out of the shadows. That is what writing is about. Not what happens there, not what actions are played out there, but the there itself. There, that is writing’s location and aim.” “Sometimes I mused that if all soft feelings could be scraped off like cartilage around the sinews of an injured athlete’s knee, what a liberation that would be. No more sentimentality, sympathy, empathy …””

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