A Death in the Family (My Struggle Book 1) July 16 2014, 0 Comments

My first impression of Karl Ove Knausgaard came from a black and white photograph published with a review of his book "A Time For Everything" in The New York Review of Books.

He is seen smoking against the rugged Norwegian landscape, hair disheveled, wearing an old, battered tee-shirt, lost in thought. Completely and unabashedly himself, yet ill at ease. Entirely present, feet deeply rooted in the present moment, yet his mind is clearly in flight, flickering at the surface of his gaze.

The striking portrait somehow encompasses all of the qualities of his writing: intense, raw, physical, elusive, inquisitive and elemental.

What Knausgaard achieves in "My Struggle", his mad yet mesmerizing 6-volume autobiographical enterprise, is simply the most "real" depiction of the movements of the mind that I have ever read. A life told in its most boring minutiae and its most elemental highs and lows, as it moves from the most mundane to the most transcendent.

Knausgaard plays alongside Proust or Virginia Woolf in his desire to encapsulate all of his experience as a human being, a teenager, a son, a friend, a lover, a father but most of all: a writer. But he does it with even more urgency, more radicality, more anger and more modernity. An Everyman of the 21st century with a 17th century temperament.

The second volume of this autobiography, which tackles the fire and vagaries of love as well as the deep ambivalences that lie at the heart of domestic life and parenthood, is utterly engrossing.

Read him, and listen to him below speak about Book 1, which deals with his youth and the death of his father, and he might very well change the way you look at the world around you and your own reaction to events.