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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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1,732786,168 (3.93)196

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English (53)  Dutch (12)  German (4)  Swedish (4)  Spanish (3)  Danish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
A lot happens in our everyday life, but it always happens within the same routine, and more than anything else it has changed my perspective of time.

Entering Karl Ove's world, we might panic from the abundance of detail or how measured the narrative is. Perhaps we are terrified of what this multi volume endeavor will reveal about the details and pacing of our lives. I found myself in that territory and without a visa. As Bono just sang here and now -- I kissed your lips and broke your heart. This is hardly a singular moment, reviewing Knausgård as my wife plays U2 on the stereo. Yet coming weeks after I turned 48 and pondering the utility of our rituals, I am find the text nearly necessary. The structure of this opening installment is interesting, the framing episode from childhood; the ventures forward in time— to 1998 and then ten years later. Karl Ove as adolescent, handsome, stammering and terribly insecure. 2008 author seeking solitude though now with three small children. His portrait of Stockholm is remarkable.

I feel a flutter of joy because he actually cares, and at the same time I become a bit offended that he underestimates me like that.

It isn't a shock that the first volume is about Daddy Issues. I can relate though, I am adopted. There is no point regretting the time spent spinning thread for a tapestry of a relationship. It is a frontal lobe thing. seeking rationale for biology.

This is not a loss, at any rate not for me, I don't get anything out of socializing anyway. I never say what I really think, what I really mean, but always more or less agree with whomever I am talking to at the time, pretend that what they say is of interest to me, except when I am drinking, in which case more often than not I go too far the other way, and wake up to the fear of having overstepped the mark.

Towards the end of the Sebald I finished recently he notes of the terror he often feels in crowds, especially at concerts. There is no fear for me, only a dislocation. The chemical remedies are familiar ones.

Well, our evening plans have changed and I am about to go. The second volume will be going along. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
If I had been sure until a few days ago that there was nothing I could not read, today I am repeating myself from these thoughts. I finished this book until the very end, at least until I realized that I was probably not meant to read more books of that author and this talented man; the man whose icicles presumably "pierced" his keyboard during writing this book and his feelings darkened and paled in the face of his astounding, sad memory. And as I read this book to the very end, my thoughts froze, and tears that were supposed to peep under my eyelids crystallized into tiny ice crystals until for a moment I was frightened of myself. Then I made up my mind with this review - never to let my feelings freez again.

It's an autobiographical book - the first of a trilogy of six books. I started to read it before I knew so. The writer describes his childhood with his parents and his brothers, his relations with his few friends, and all in a completely exposed, cool surgical tone, in search of answers, which are sometimes found in the reader more than they are in the writer.

This book made me think mainly about changing the perception that occurs as a person grows up and accumulates experience. About the change with the parent-that when we are children, he is omnipotent and dominates our lives thoroughly, and as we get older, this attitude becomes something entirely different.

But this book is almost too of an "iceberg" for me to keep on reading his other books. It describes frozen relationships, frozen emotions, frozen life. It is not boring at all, but Karl Ove Knossorgard immortalized his great egocentricity - his perception of himself as the center of the world and his limited attitude to others in his world, which is perfectly fine and predictable when you are 16 but seems very problematic when you're 39 years old. ( )
  mazalbracha | Jan 12, 2019 |
I will echo what many others have said -- this series is strangely addictive reading. That's all. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Dec 4, 2018 |

Karl Ove Knausgaard - Norwegian novelist born in 1968

This first volume of the author's novel captures episodes in his life, usually as a boy growing up but sometimes events in his twenties and thirties and also reflections as he writes in his forties, through a particular lens: the poignant emotions and heart-break of a teenager. While this would probably be a formula for literary disaster if attempted by most writers, in the skillful hands of Mr. Knausgaard it is a formidable achievement.

How does he do it? Darn if I know but, like a Cirque du Soleil juggler juggling eleven balls at once, Karl Ove makes it look easy. You might ask: `Why can't I write like that?' Well, go ahead and try! You will find out very quickly just how extremely difficult such a feat is to pull off. For example, he mixes this hypersensitivity with both light and dark humor as he sits at his writing desk and projects how the public will ponder his death, and captures the flavor in a number of wonderfully whimsical poems. Here are a few snatches:

Here lies a man who never complained
A happy life he never gained
His last words before he died
And went to cross the great divide
Were: Oh, Lord, there's such a chill
Can someone send a happy pill?


Here lies a man of letters
A noble man of Nordic birth
Alas, his hands were bound in fetters
Barring him from knowing mirth
Once he wrote with dash and wit
Now he's buried in a pit
Come on, worms, take your fill,
Taste some flesh, if you will
Try an eye
Or a thigh
He's croaked his last, have a thrill.


Book not accepted, the man blew his top
He guzzled and belched and couldn't stop
His belly it grew, his belt got tight,
His eyes glared, his tongue alight
"I only wanted to write what was right!"

And why have many reviewers, both men and women, described Karl Ove Knausgaard's writing as riveting and gripping? In large measure, I think the answer lies in the fact that the author's words reawaken the reader's own forgotten teenager years with all their intensity, insecurity and emotional, hormonal topsy-turvy. Matter of fact, the connection is so direct, many people have had the strong sense they were reading their own autobiography instead of his. In a way, this was my experience, as well.

One last example - here is a bit of the narrator's passionate swirl, age sixteen, when he is with Hanne, the first love of his life: "What does laconic mean? she asked, her green eyes looking at me. Every time she did that I almost fell apart. I could smash all the windows around us, knock all the pedestrians to the ground and jump up and down on them until all signs of life were extinguished, so much energy did her eyes fill me with. I could also grab her around the waist and waltz down the street, throw flowers at everyone we met and sing at the top of my voice." Ah, to be sixteen and in love. This is only Book One. Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote six thick volumes of My Struggle. What an exhilarating read; what a narrative voice; what an author. Thanks Karl.

Coda: Volume One contains powerful, almost overwhelming emotionally charged scenes revolving around Karl Ove's father. Be prepared for some tough going as you turn the pages, especially toward the end of the book. ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (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 (14 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
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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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Archipelago Books

2 editions of this book were published by Archipelago Books.

Editions: 1935744186, 1935744526

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