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Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories
China Miéville
Operation Greylord: The True Story of an Untrained Undercover Agent and America's Biggest Corruption Bust
Terrence Hake, Wayne Klatt
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
Aaron Franklin, Jordan Mackay
My System: 21st Century Edition
Aron Nimzowitsch
The Wheeling Year: A Poet's Field Book
Ted Kooser
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
Francis Fukuyama
My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love
Karl Ove Knausgård, Don Bartlett
James Madison: A Biography
Ralph Louis Ketcham
The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805
Richard Zacks

My Struggle: Book 1

My Struggle: Book 1 - Karl Ove Knausgård, Don Bartlett A semi-autobiographic work, Knausgård ranges and reminisces over a period of his life with slightly uneven, but often brilliant results. Categorized as fiction but starring himself, his family, and the events of his life, My Struggle doesn't so much as blur the line between a novel and autobiography as it superimposes them, creating a new hybrid form. Is any particular event entirely real or true? Who cares. Knausgård writes in a fluid and painfully honest style, and the only verb I can think of to describe how he moves from one event to a digression on some larger theme, how the past comes swirling to the present and back again, would be leaking. Knausgård builds a container into which he pours his childhood, his fears, and the reflection you see is your own, as you see your own image in a dark or secret thought. Then that pool drains away as the past leaks into philosophizing or to some narrative more present for our author's voice. I suspect the highly fluid style is what leads so many to make comparisons to Proust. While I see where people would say that, it's misplaced and probably does some small disservice to both. Forced to draw a comparison, I'd say that reading Proust is like drifting down a river in a raft on a nice spring day. You can't rush the experience, but are forced to sit there as the scenery drifts by, as words wash over you. People fail to enjoy Proust when they lust for form, when they seek a central narrative. "Yes," they say, "But exactly who is doing what?" Reading Knausgård is more like drifting down that same river with the raft flipped over, and you underneath it breathing in the pocket between it and the water. Yes Virgina, it's true we ARE still rafting, but...

In general Knausgård is focused on themes of growing up and the change in his relationships with his father, brother, and quite frankly, himself. Most readers will find something of their own lives staring back at them in one moment or another.

I've read many interviews, listened to readings and more interviews, heard the unfounded praise and equally unfounded backlash, as have all in the literary world. Men are made into gods, to grant us the greatest pleasure when we cast them back down. This is the first of 6 volumes, and the first two were written before he received attention for them. I'm sure books 3-5 suffer for that, as the author claims. The saddest thing about all of this isn't that he made a Faustian bargain in gaining fame at the cost of estrangement from family and friends, as Knausgård claims, but in that in all likelihood, this will be the only lasting work he produces. Quite early on in volume one I felt quite strongly that this series will destroy whatever desire, ability, and talent the man has. Fortunately for us, at least volume one is terribly good. Five Stars.