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My Struggle: Book One: A Death in the Family…

My Struggle: Book One: A Death in the Family (2009)

by Karl Ove Knausgård

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: My struggle (1)

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1,664756,261 (3.93)184

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» See also 184 mentions

English (49)  Dutch (12)  Swedish (4)  Danish (3)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Norwegian (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Despite the awful title, whose significance is not explained and the author is presumably not a Nazi,
this first volume of Karl Ove's 6 volume autobiographical story opens deep introspection for many of us
who have dealt with the dying, death, and facing the dead of our parents.

I loved reading it every night until Karl Ove and his brother, Yngve, arrive at their beloved Grandmother's
home after she found their father dead. They spend many days and nights cleaning, cleaning, and more
cleaning but continue to allow this very old woman with memory loss to sit, eat, and sleep in her own urine.
They make no move to offer or to get help, even the homemaker that she had before her son moved in.

When her brother and his wife visit, they do not ask for advice or for the wife's help to clean the Grandmother,
address her needs, talk with her about prevention, take her to a doctor, or do anything to stop the steady stream of pee moving with her through the house. The whole house stinks.

And why do nothing?
Why not care for the grieving human before scrubbing her house?
Readers still don't know and the lack of care and resolution make a dreadful ending to an otherwise great book.

Back to the title: there's a thin line, maybe none, between Knausgaard's admitted "Fuck you" choice for his title and simply being a jerk. ( )
  m.belljackson | Sep 10, 2018 |
Revelatory memoir is more the stuff of salacious serialisation in the Sunday newspapers than of breakthrough in literary approach. Anyone believing the hyperbole of the endorsements is due a disappointment, then. The description of growing up in urban Norway added nothing new to those I've read by Per Petterson or Roy Jacobsen, say, and from my perspective, not as good. It lacks the coherence to achieve the universal relevance that's claimed for it (unsurprising, given that it was apparently written at breakneck speed). And then there's that original title, which means 'Mein Kampf' in Norwegian... what is that about? Nonetheless, in the end, I enjoyed reading Knausgaard's autofiction.

While Knausgaard reveals more about those in his life than they might like, he is also unsparing of himself, which gives this book a different twist. And there are some beautiful descriptions buried among the howling cliches. For me, the final section, describing the aftermath of his father's death was the strongest and the novel accumulated power as we came to see Knausgaard the man (or, at least, the one he chose to present us with). Will I be reading the next in the series? I haven't yet decided. ( )
  PZR | Jul 28, 2018 |
Intimate and compelling

This was still a 5 overall, although I found that the teenage years of the first half were not very interesting. The second half though is a riveting account of Knausgaard’s trauma following the death of his father and of the family preparations before the funeral.

“A Death in the Family” (Norwegian original 2009, English translation 2012) is Volume 1 of Knausgaard’s 6 volume “My Struggle” memoir written during his early 40’s and looking back on his life at that point. Volume 1 is divided into 2 parts with the 1st part mostly centering on the young teenage Knausgaard and his buddies trying to secure alcohol for some party nights. Obviously a 25 year memory is going to be a bit faulty and I imagine that events here have been combined and fictionalized for dramatic effect. Still, it hit an early off-note when the youths hide their beers outside for hours in a bitterly cold winter and the bottles don’t freeze. Anyway, that was a minor non-reality quibble.

The second part felt so raw and real that you are compelled to read on in amazement that he would be be so revealing about his own often dark feelings and then about his family as well.

A sidenote, but I thought Knausgaard’s comments about novel form (which I read as structure) were especially perceptive:
Everything has to submit to form. If any of literature’s other elements are stronger than form, such as style, plot, theme, if any of these take control over form, the result is poor. That is why writers with a strong style often write poor books. That is also why writers with strong themes so often write poor books. Strong themes and styles have to be broken down before literature can come into being. It is this breaking down that is called ‘writing’. ( )
  alanteder | Jul 15, 2018 |
Bom, passei o livro todo sem entender exatamente o porquê do fuss que Karl Ove causou ao redor do mundo, cogitei que um dos motivos de tanta badalação por parte das pessoas que o leram, é que estas na verdade nunca leram Proust para considerar um patamar mais elevado, não que Knausgard não seja um bom escritor, ele de fato o é, algumas frases dele são muito boas, mas num âmbito geral não há nada de brilhante nele e o seu tão aclamado estilo proustiano não passa de uma pálida comparação com o original. ( )
  Adriana_Scarpin | Jun 12, 2018 |
fuuuuwooah... That was heavy. Honest, raw, boring, sad, not without funny or ironic parts though. Genius phrasing in many parts. I liked the Norwegian influences as well. Altogether a very honest and vulnerable book that has a brilliant intro (just read the description of death in the first chapter if you don't read anything else), a great end, and even though I felt I wasn't absorbing everything or will remember it all, I believe that some of my mental maps have been updated and that this was a great book to choose to read.

Also an interesting coincidence. Another book I have just read, Mindfulness in Plain English, is narrated by Edoardo Ballerini who just so happens to narrate the Audible edition of My Struggle 1. Of all the chances, right?

Altogether this is a great book. It's a little boring at parts, there's depressing parts. But I would say that this paints a much clearer picture of life than an exaggerated and cherry picked story.

and I love Karl's liberal use of cursing and mentioning the raw and primal aspects of life. This is probably what kept me reading the most - the little tics and imperfections. ( )
  Scaurface | Mar 31, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
“My Struggle” is not really a novel but the first book of a six-volume autobiography that is now notorious in Knausgaard’s native country. The Hitlerian title (“Min Kamp,” in Norwegian) refers not only to the usual stations of the bildungsroman but also to two fierce battles. One is with the author’s father, a morose and distant schoolteacher who left the family when Knausgaard was a teen-ager, and then drank himself to death. The more pervasive struggle is with death itself, in which writing is both weapon and battlefield.
. . .
There is a flatness and a prolixity to the prose; the long sentences have about them an almost careless avant-gardism, with their conversational additions and splayed run-ons. The writer seems not to be selecting or shaping anything, or even pausing to draw breath. Cliché is not spurned—time is falling through Knausgaard’s hands “like sand”; elsewhere in the book, the author tells us that falling in love was like being struck by lightning, that he was head over heels in love, that he was as hungry as a wolf. There is, perhaps, something a little gauche in his confessional volubility. But there is also a simplicity, an openness, and an innocence in his relation to life, and thus in his relation to the reader. Where many contemporary writers would reflexively turn to irony, Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties, unafraid to appear naïve or awkward. Although his sentences are long and loose, they are not cutely or aimlessly digressive: truth is repeatedly being struck at, not chatted up.
added by aileverte | editThe New Yorker, James Wood (Aug 13, 2012)
Knausgård går lige i mellemgulvet...Karl Ove Knausgårds ambitiøse romaprjekt MIN KAMP er en sejr for romankunsten.
added by 2810michael | editInformation
Min kamp. Første bok
Knausgård, Karl Ove
| ISBN 9788249506866

Karl Ove Knausgårds tredje roman innebærer en enorm litterær satsning, og er en stor bok i mer enn én forstand: Min kamp blir utgitt som seks romaner. Første, andre og tredje bok er utkommet, og fjerde, femte og sjette bok utkommer våren 2010.

Romanen åpner med en svimlende beskrivelse av døden. Derfra fortelles det om forfatteren Karl Ove Knausgårds kamp for å mestre livet og seg selv og sine egne ambisjoner på skrivingens vegne, i møte med de menneskene han har rundt seg. Min kamp. Første bok utforsker det å vokse opp og være overgitt en verden som ser ut til å være komplett, avsluttet, lukket. Romanen beskriver det unge blikkets varhet og usikkerhet, der det registrerer andre menneskers tilstedeværelse og vurderinger med en åpenhet som er voldsom og nesten selvutslettende i sin konsekvens.

I en borende prosa som oppsøker det sårbare, det pinlige og det eksistensielt betydningsbærende, blir dette en dypt personlig roman, selvutprøvende og kontroversiell. Et eksistensielt omdreiningspunkt er farens død, et annet er kanskje hovedpersonens debut som forfatter.

I 2009 ble Min kamp. Første bok kåret til en av de ti beste romanene siste tiår av VG. For denne boken mottok Karl Ove Knausgård Brageprisen, og han ble nominert til Nordisk Råds litteraturpris.

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Knausgård, Karl Oveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartlett, DonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berf, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huttunen, KatriinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molenaar, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paula StevensTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
For hjertet er livet enkelt: det slår så lenge det kan. Så stopper det.
Å skrive er å trekke det som finnes ut av skyggene av det vi vet. Det er det skriving handler om. Ikke hva som skjer der, ikke hva slags handlinger som utspiller seg der, men der i seg selv. Der, det er skrivingens sted og mål.
He had been her first born.
Children were not supposed to pre-decease their parents, they weren't supposed to. That was not the idea.
And to me, what had Dad been to me?
Someone I wished dead.
So why all these tears?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the first of six books comprising the author's "My Struggle" ("Min Kamp" in Norwegian) cycle.

In the US the title was literally translated as "My Struggle Book One", whereas in the UK and Canada it has been issued under the title "A Death in the Family".
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The provocative, audacious, brilliant six-volume autobiographical novel that has unquestionably been the main event of contemporary European literature. It has earned favorable comparisons to its obvious literary forebears "A la recherche du temps perdu" and "Mein Kampf" but has been celebrated as the rare magnum opus that is intensely, addictively readable.… (more)

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Average: (3.93)
1 6
1.5 1
2 23
2.5 6
3 51
3.5 37
4 145
4.5 43
5 96

Archipelago Books

2 editions of this book were published by Archipelago Books.

Editions: 1935744186, 1935744526

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