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My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love by Karl…

My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love (2009)

by Karl Ove Knausgård

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: My struggle (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8124216,985 (4.16)74
  1. 00
    A Time for Everything by Karl-Ove Knausgaard (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Das Ringen um den Roman "Alles hat seine Zeit" wird im autobiografischen Werk "Lieben" beschrieben.
  2. 00
    Välkommen till Amerika by Linda Boström Knausgård (JuliaMaria)

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» See also 74 mentions

English (25)  Dutch (8)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
It was good, but I can't read another one of these.

The first volume held me spellbound. While still weighty in comparison with many other books, it felt lean, with no fluff. Every discursion served the novel in the end. Unfortunately, it's not so for the second.

For whatever reason, in the second volume Knausgård seems to have lost his razor sharp focus on theme. While the text itself is enjoyable to read, the deeper connection between events is just missing for me. It's like this. The sacred in the mundane is a very Knausgårdian feature. He achieved it here, but in fits and starts. What I couldn't stand were the absolutely banal passages [see pg. 430 below] that neither served as a peak moment nor as groundwork towards future peaks.

What's more, this book was decently longer than the first. I can only suspend judgment for so long, and the style of the series demands suspension of payoff- through long sections that diverge from the points of the previous section. And all this is exacerbated by the lack of chapters. Yes, it's just text and story from start to finish, 660 pages of it in a row.

And in the end, it feels like it's not about anything at all. I feel like some people say that's the point of these books, but the first volume was clearly about the juxtaposition of death and growing up. It had a strong vision that volume two lacks.

On the whole, I cannot imagine wading through 4 more similarly sized books of this. What I've written above may sound like I hated the book, but I liked it for what it is. Still, I've gotta be done now. But I'm still really interested to see what his other (non My Struggle) works are like. Maybe i'll grab Autumn next.

[pg. 430: (don't worry, this spoils absolutely nothing)

My mobile rang in my pocket. I took it and looked at the display. Yngve.
'Hi?' I said.
'Hi,' he answered. 'How's it going?'
'Fine. How about you?'
'Yep, fine.'
'Good. Yngve, we're about to go into a cafe. Can I ring you later? This afternoon some time? Or was there something in particular?'
'No, nothing. We can talk later.'
I put the mobile back in my pocket.
'That was Yngve,' I said.
'Is he all right?' Linda asked.
I shrugged.
'I don't know. But I'll call him afterwards.'

(All that apropos of nothing, for nothing's sake. Really.)] ( )
  jakebornheimer | Mar 27, 2019 |
Denser than the first volume, but the banality of detail is still mesmerizing. It's possible he overthinks things, but it makes way better reading than the masses who write when they're underthinking. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
I wandered beneath the sun-dappled shade from the trees, surrounded by the warm fragrances of the forest, thinking that I was in the middle of my life. Not life as an age, not halfway along life’s path, but in the middle of my existence. My heart trembled.

Rather late in this volume, Karl Ove reflects on ascribing a utility to literature especially fiction. He confesses a desire to read only essays and diaries at the moment. [all the verbs and gerunds need to be qualified in this endeavor (My Struggle, as opposed to my reviews thereof), that will be self evident to those familiar with the enterprise. The specificity does strike me as artifice, unlike say the project of Jacques Roubaud.] If that is the case his accounts of reading appear more towards the modernist or late 19C novel, particularly in the Russian approaches.

There is something electric and narcotic in this prose. That’s a remarkable feat given the attention to smoke breaks. I found myself lighting my pipe for the first time in years yesterday in empathy. It was most natural to finish the second volume out here on the porch this morning. Knausgård appears to crave such solitude. Lovely cool weather has arrived after a daylong deluge which took me away from Karl Ove and some delicious Berlin Sour ale last night to aid our struggling sub pump. I did think of his work while carrying buckets of water out to the alley.

I have never been one for completing entire series of books. My caprice governs. My gaze typically wanders. My inner Augie March. That is not the case at present. Opening the third installment as soon as possible. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Book 2 of my Karl Ove addiction. His descriptions of being a parent and raising his children is so spot-on. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Dec 4, 2018 |

Oh, Karl Ove, you capture the heart-break of the lovesick, hypersensitive teenager that speaks to our own lost teenage years. And thanks for Book 2, writing of your life during your 20s and 30s, married, raising children, dealing with the whole urban banana. A reader might think very self-centered of a writer to pen 6 thick volumes of his life, but you, Karl Ove, are able to tap into the culture's pulse and our collective modern human experience - reading your books is almost like reading our own autobiography.

Here is a section of My Struggle, Book 2 I found particularly insightful, where Karl Ove reflects on his dealings with the people in his life: he tells us when he is with other men and women, he feels empathetic and bound to them; but when he is by himself, his feelings for them dissolve. “Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, not something that was meaningful or that made me happy. . . . I always longed to be away from it. So the life I led was not my own. I tried to make it mine, that was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts. What was the problem? Was it the shrill, sickly tone I heard everywhere that I couldn’t stand, the one that arose from all the pseudopeople and pseudoplaces, pseudoevents, and psudoconflicts our lives passed through, that which we saw but did not participate in, and the distance that modern life in this way had opened up to our own, actually inalienable here and now? If so, if it was more reality, more involvement I longed for, surely it should be that which I was surrounded by that I should be embracing?”

This is but a sliver of Karl Ove’s musing at the time on the dynamics of living an everyday city life as husband, father, friend, acquaintance; he continues for several pages, expanding on such topics as our standardized, homogenized shrinking world until he is obliged to participate in his daughter’s Rhythm Time class, a occasion he finds to be one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences of his life -- he feels a powerful, passionate, sexual attraction to the graceful, gorgeous Rhythm Time teacher but also feels completely humiliated sitting on the floor, shaking a rattle and singing children's songs. It’s this linking the details of his own experience and conflicted feelings with a broader philosophizing on society and culture, art and literature, I find so compelling.

And a reflection from further on in the novel, “For who brooded over the meaninglessness of life anymore? Teenagers? They were the only ones who were preoccupied with existential issues, and as a result there was something puerile and immature about them, and hence it was doubly impossible for adults with their sense of propriety intact to deal with them. However, this is not so strange, for we never feel more strongly and passionately about life than in our teenage years, when we step into the world for the first time, as it were, and all our feelings are new feelings. So there they are, with their big ideas on small orbits, looking this way and that for an opportunity to launch them, as the pressure builds. And who is it they light upon sooner or later but Uncle Dostoyevsky? Dostoyevsky has become a teenager’s writer, the issue of nihilism a teenager issue.”

Ironically, the many pages of this book are filled to the brim with brooding on existential issues, forever questioning the meaning and meaninglessness of life, as if the author’s feelings are perpetually new feelings, as if every morning he steps into the world for the first time with all the awkwardness, discomfort, unease and even clumsiness of a teenager unhesitatingly opening his heart to the frequent hard edges and occasional tenderness of those around him.

The narrator reminds me of those characters from the novels of Dostoyevsky who, swept up in the intensity of the moment, in a gush of emotional frenzy, say ‘to hell with the future’ and stack all their chips on one spin of the roulette wheel or burn their life savings in a fire. For example, here is Karl Ove back in his room, totally drunk, after hearing a woman he loves tell him sorry, she’s not interested. “I went into the bathroom, grabbed the glass on the sink and hurled it at the wall with all the strength I could muster. I waited to hear if there was any reaction. Then I took the biggest shard I could find and started cutting my face. I did it methodically, making the cuts as deep as I could, and covered my whole face. The chin, cheeks, forehead, nose, underneath the chin. At regular intervals I wiped away the blood with a towel. Kept cutting. Wiped the blood away. But the time I was satisfied with my handiwork there was hardly room for one more cut, and I went to bed.”

Observing Karl Ove as he makes his North American book tour this spring, there isn’t any evidence of a face cut to shreds. One beauty of a novel is the author has the latitude, even in an autobiographical novel like this one (many of his extended family refuse to have anything to do with him), to create imaginatively. And this play of creative imagination makes all the difference. Although the author draws explicitly from his own life—the first-person narrator is named Karl Ove Knausgaard, and he uses the real names of his wife, children, parents, and friends, I am reading these books as a novel, since I sense a good portion is embellished or simply made-up.

Made-up or real, in the end, this is a novel of emotional extremes. Linda, the love of his Karl Ove’s life, breaths hot-blooded fire: melodramatic, mercurial, quick-tempered and occasionally violent and destructive. Yet these two lovers remain together and have three children. And with every additional child their household fire rages with more ferocity. How on earth do they do it? 600 pages of Book 2 tells the tale.

One last note on a key piece of Book 2: Karl Ove’s ongoing conversation with his philosophical and literary friend, Geir, and his ongoing conversation with his philosophic inner self. For instance, Karl Ove alone, “Fictional writing has no value, documentary narrative has no value. The only genres I saw value in, which still conferred meaning, were diaries and essays, the types of literature that did not deal with narrative, that were not about anything, but just consisted of a voice, the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet. What is a work of art if not the gaze of another person? Not directed above us, not beneath us, but at the same height as our own gaze. Art cannot be experienced collectively, nothing can, art is something you are alone with. You meet its gaze alone.”

( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Knausgaard has a tremendous essayistic talent, and Book 2, like Book 1, is rich in reflections on everything from the sociology of death to the psychopathology of everyday life. As with all great writers, the ideas or theories are woven into the story, dramatized, and this is as true of the question of what gives meaning as of any other question in the book. Reflecting on the history of conceptions of life and death, Knausgaard asks: “What was man on this earth other than an insect among other insects, a life-form among other life-forms, which might just as well take the form of algae in a lake or fungi on the forest floor, roe in a fish’s stomach, rats in a nest or a cluster of mussels on a reef?” This lowering or leveling of human life is not simply a logical deduction, a search for rational balance, but an intensely emotional expression of fear, uncertainty and longing.
...crucially, "Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, nor something that was meaningful or made me happy … I always longed to be away from it, and always had done. So the life I led was not my own. I tried to make it mine, this was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts."

It is this caveat that defines Knausgaard's artistic achievement, for without it, his world would merely subside back into narrative; the malaise would have been a question of practicalities, the need for a different story. Instead, he shows us, by the route of life, that there is no story, and in so doing he finds, at last, authenticity. For that alone, this deserves to be called perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our times.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Rachel Cusk (Apr 12, 2013)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Knausgård, Karl Oveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartlett, DonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huttunen, KatriinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molenaar, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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29 juli 2008 / Het is een lange zomer geweest en hij is nog steeds niet voorbij. Op 26 juni had ik het eerste deel van mijn romancyclus af en sindsdien, al meer dan een maand, zijn Vanja en Heidi thuis van de crèche met alles wat dat aan dagelijkse drukte met zich meebrengt.
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"A six-volume work of fiction by the Norwegian author, Karl Ove Knausgaard"--

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