Tag: Min kamp

Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgård

Posted July 21, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Boyhood Island by Karl Ove KnausgårdTitle: Boyhood Island (Goodreads)
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator: Don Bartlett
Series: Min Kamp #3
Published: Harvill Secker, 2009
Pages: 496
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Boyhood Island is the third book in the Karl Ove Knausgård’s six volume autobiographical novel, My Struggle (Min Kamp). While Knausgård talked in great length about his father in A Death in the Family (My Struggle #1) this is a more in depth look at his relationship with his parents. With the focus being on his childhood, Boyhood Island allows Karl Ove to reflect on his adolescence in a “coming of age” style novel.

I will admit that I have been enjoying the Min Kamp, but there is something about A Death in the Family that really worked for me. The way he talked about his father with lines like “Dad had got what was coming to him, it was good that he was dead,” in the midst of what felt a lot like a midlife crisis really worked for me. A Man in Love was a more tender novel, allowing Karl Ove to explore his relationship with his wife. I think the swing from a dark and bitter first novel to the tenderness of the second really allowed me to discover the range in Knausgård’s writing and I was very captivated by this.

When it came to Boyhood Island, I was disappointed that we were going back to his relationship with his father. I felt like A Death in the Family dealt with that issue; although in not great detail but enough to have the highlights. This book felt like we were going over the same material again but in far greater detail. The coming of age style worked when talking about Karl Ove’s life but I never felt like there was anything new to cover when it came to talking about his father.

There are some interesting insights in Boyhood Island that are well worth exploring, I just did not think it lived up to the other books in the series. I am keen to check out Dancing in the Dark, which covers Knausgård’s college years, I have a feeling there will be a return to form for this author. I am half way through Min Kamp so I feel like I might as well complete it. Karl Ove Knausgård is a very impressive writer and the range on display between each novel is what draws me to his novels. Although I have never read anything other than these autobiographical novels, I am interested in seeing how he writes in his other books.


A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgård

Posted December 18, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 4 Comments

A Man in Love by Karl Ove KnausgårdTitle: A Man in Love (Goodreads)
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator: Don Bartlett
Series: Min Kamp #2
Published: Harvill Secker, 2009
Pages: 528
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Karl Ove Knausgård’s six volume autobiographical novel, My Struggle (Min Kamp) has been dubbed a literary sensation more often than I can count. Despite what the critics think, I often look to the book blogging community to help measure the success and popularity of a book and sadly this series hasn’t really become the sensation it should be. It has been compared to Proust but I think that is mainly because of the large autobiographical nature, My Struggle tells the story of Karl Ove Knausgård’s life in a non-linear way; A Death in the Family (My Struggle #1) focuses on the theme of death, while A Man in Love (book 2) looks at love.

When Karl Ove Knausgård leaves Oslo and starts his life afresh in Stockholm, it is because of a messy breakup with his wife. His move to Stockholm is aided by Geir, in which he develops a deep friendship with. He also meets a beautiful Swedish poet, Linda Boström, who captivated him and becomes the object of his affection. A Man in Love is the story of Karl Ove and Linda’s blossoming romance, eventual marriage and children.

As stated in my review of A Death in the Family, this series of books have been met with massive controversy and his friends and family have been none too pleased. His ex-wife has stated in an interview that he has made a “Faustian bargain”, sacrificing relationships for this series of books. Karl Ove Knausgård is brutally honest and doesn’t paint the best light on himself or others, despite the fact this is considered an autobiographical novel.

Compared to A Death in the Family, A Man in Love is a linear story that focuses on the relationship between Karl Ove and Linda. Knausgård writes with such affection and love towards Linda and there is such a tender and sweet tone to the book. However because he wants to remain viciously truthful there are moments where she isn’t portrayed as the sweet woman he feel in love with. Knausgård airs all their domestic disputes and Linda sometimes comes across as aggressive, angry and stubborn. In contrast, the reader will also notice that Karl Ove Knausgård is flippant, arrogant and narcissistic.

I loved the dark themes and what Knausgård had to say on bewilderment and grief, so I kind of felt like this was a little light and flowery for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some dark moments here and Linda Boström Knausgård’s outbursts make their relationship rough but there was just something that bugged me about this novel. Karl Ove kept threating to leave Linda every time she had an outburst and that bothered me but I realised that was his style of arguing and at least he was honest about his flaws as well. After a little bit of research I found out that Linda suffers from bipolar disorder, which I don’t remember being revealed in the book but helps put things into perspective.

A Man in Love is a novel about love and Karl Ove’s relationship with Linda, which is an important part of his life but doesn’t always make for a compelling read. I did enjoy this novel and I am looking forward to picking up book three in the Min Kamp series, Boyhood Island. It sounds like the majority of the story has been covered in A Death in the Family but I will find out soon. The fourth book in the series is set to be released in March next year, but then I will be stuck waiting for the last two books. Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle is well worth checking out and I am disappointed that not many other people are reading it, but maybe they are just waiting till the entire series is released.


A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgård

Posted October 9, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove KnausgårdTitle: A Death in the Family (Goodreads)
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator: Don Bartlett
Series: Min Kamp #1
Published: Harvill Secker, 2009
Pages: 400
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

A Death in the Family is the first book in the controversial six volume series by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård. The controversy started with the title of the book Min Kamp, which is the same title as Hitler’s Mein Kampf as both translate to My Struggle. Secondly, while these are marketed as autobiographical novels, Knausgård has come under fire from friends and families for exposing their private lives. Karl Ove Knausgård has been often been called a Proustian and Min Kamp often compared to In Search of Lost Time. That is just enough pretention to make me want to pick up these novels and read them.

A Death in the Family (or My Struggle Book 1 in America) tells the story of Karl Ove Knausgård, a family man living in Sweden, trying to find the balance between his writing and his family. He reflects on his childhood and teenage years, as well as the loss of his father in what feels like a brutally honest portrayal of his life. What is interesting is the idea of this being an autobiographical novel rather than a memoir; as a reader I had to continuously remind myself of this fact. I had to question what is real and were liberties were taken. Honestly, I don’t think I could write about my childhood with such clarity and I suspect that the fiction was used to fill in the gaps and tell a better story.

Karl Ove Knausgård is approaching middle age, and with a young family I suspect that this six volume series is just a way for him to make sense of his life. Allowing him to work through issues and mistakes and explore different ideas he might have towards life. This is both an effective and fascinating insight of the life of a writer and I suspect it would have been very therapeutic for Knausgård, even if it caused friends or family members to hate him. As a novel, it is a roller coaster of emotions; sometimes it might come across as slow or even dull but that is life.

This first volume is even divided into two parts, one exploring the childhood/teenage years of Karl Ove and the other the death of his father. To understand the death of his father, obviously his childhood played a big part; his mother was almost invisible, always at work or somewhere and his father was distant and unpredictable. We often have a rose-coloured memory of our childhood but as Knausgård reflects on his past, you can recognise a similar distorted view in your own life. Karl Ove has a dark view on the world and death; it is interesting read this book in the context as he tries to understand his father and his death at such a young age.

While I can’t compare Karl Ove Knausgård to Marcel Proust (I really need to read him) or Min Kamp with In Search of Lost Time, I’m glad to have read this novel. I have reserved A Man in Love (Book 2) and I plan to read all six books. I like Knausgård’s view on the world and find it fascinating to read his books as he works through his own issues. His writing style obviously helps, I found great beauty in the dark and macabre views and credit has to go to Don Bartlett for the translation.

My only problem is going to be the fact that only the first three books of My Struggle have been translated and published. I suspect I will be caught up on this series very soon and I will have begin the year long waits between volumes. Book Four is expected in April 2015 and I am never going to learn Norwegian to avoid the wait. I have always shyed away from a series that is incomplete because of the wait but this sounded right up my alley and thought I had to try at least the first book; that was a mistake.

This was a pleasant balance between literary fiction and self-reflection. Karl Ove Knausgård even threw in some of his philosophical views; I remember some references to Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in the text. This was so much more than an autobiographical novel of bewilderment, grief, relationship, love, loss and rock music; hard to explain but I recommend you experience it. Even if you just wish to increase your book snobbery levels, Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle series is going to be something to watch. I suspect this will become a literary sensation, if it has not become one yet.