*My Struggle: Book One*, by Karl Knausgaard

by on December 7, 2012 at 6:02 am in Books | Permalink

Imagine a Norwegian Proust, albeit more concrete and with less repetition.  The Amazon link is here, and you will notice that all nine Amazon reviews give it five stars.  Here is a James Wood review from The New Yorker.  Here is Wikipedia on the author.  Here is a good blog review.  Note this is only one out of six volumes, from Norway.

I would put this among the greatest Continental novels of the last fifty years and not at the bottom of that tier.  It is not often that one discovers such books.

1 Ray Lopez December 7, 2012 at 6:17 am

Thanks! The trouble with Amazon.com ‘all five star ratings’: I’ve noticed the classics don’t get five stars (check this out yourself–any of the top greatest novels of all time rarely will get as many positive ratings as a routine Anne Rice romance), and the ‘all five star’ ratings are usually friends of the author or shills. Case in point: this chess book has nearly all five stars from 75 reviewers. Do you really think it’s one of the best chess books of all time? http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Tournaments-Juniors-Robert-Snyder/dp/0812936353/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top (PS–the author was later pleaded guilty of sex crimes against a minor).

2 Chris Purnell December 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

Roman Polanski also committed sex crimes against a child but it doesn’t alter the fact that he is one of the greatest film directors of all time. Ergo: So what is a chess book is written by someone who is flawed.

3 Ray Lopez December 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

You fell into my trap. You commented on the last point I made and ignored the other points. This is a common rhetorical pitfall. Check and mate. 😉

4 Rahul December 7, 2012 at 11:34 am

Hardly. You made a non sequitur and he pointed it out.

5 zbicyclist December 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

It’s a comment on a blog post, not a college debate tournament.

Chris Purnell commented on the part he wanted to comment on. Perhaps neither he nor I can judge whether it is one of the best chess books of all time.

Friends review friends favorably. Probably worse on Amazon, but hardly news.

6 DougT December 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

Counterfactual: Kristin Lavransdatter. Continuously in print for 90 years, 4 1/2 stars (http://is.gd/3OYCEr). Read the negative reviews. It gives me hope for humanity’s future to read such ignorance publicly displayed. Surely we can make progress from here!

Full disclosure: I’m a finance professional who is most optimistic when prices are low and public gloom abounds.

7 affenkopf December 7, 2012 at 6:18 am

My Struggle? Who thought that would be a good title?

8 momama December 7, 2012 at 7:42 am

You have to wait until the sixth volume to find out. That’s after 2500 pages…

9 rjs December 7, 2012 at 9:39 am

it worked for “mein kampf”

10 Careless December 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

That’s the joke.

11 dynkin December 7, 2012 at 7:08 am

When will the German translation be available?

12 Rahul December 7, 2012 at 7:10 am

Will they release it as “Mein Kampf”? That would run afoul of EU censors.

13 BucketofFried December 7, 2012 at 9:36 am

Nein,das ist “Meine Kaempfe” auf Deutsch.

14 SP December 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm

No, literal translation is “Mein Kampf”. I guess Knausgaard chose it deliberatly. The title of the German translation is “Sterben” (to die, dying).

15 Brandon T. December 7, 2012 at 7:27 am

Sure, but when I finish it, I won’t be able to tell anyone I’ve read Proust.

16 Urso December 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

I read Proust once, but I don’t remember it.

17 karl December 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

Proust did.

18 tt December 7, 2012 at 8:06 am

sounds horrible

19 Aslak December 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

Nit-picking: Knausgaard is a great writer, but we Scandinavians are not Continental so his novel can hardly be a great Continental novel.

20 affenkopf December 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

You are an Island?

21 Aslak December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Technically a peninsula, but in practice yes vis-a-vis people on the continent.

22 Go Kings, Go! December 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm

The “continent” is basically a star fish, with a peninsula in Iberia, in Italy, in Greece, in Denmark, and Britain (Doggerland will never be forgotten!) and, no offense, Scandinavia.

23 Andrew Edwards December 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

Damn thing not in Kindle store in Canada…. Does anyone know a workaround?

24 dan1111 December 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Buy a print copy?

25 TheFuture December 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

They have printed versions of eBooks now?

26 Michelle December 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

Amazing! I love this man. I wish I could see more. He is such an incredible aritst and craftsman. Drew, if you have any of him smiling I would like to get one printed for my wall collage.

27 D December 7, 2012 at 11:57 am

May not be relevant here, but the 1st Amazon reviews of a book are ususally people who are already fans and it’s not at all uncommon for a book to have a 5 star rating for the 1st 10 or so reviews but eventually drop and stettle to a 3.5 or 4. I’ve seen this over and over so I usually ignore the initial average of the ratings until they get around 20 reviews or so.

28 Urso December 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Anecdotally I find that a not-insignificant number of 5* and 1* Amazon reviews are content free, “this totally sucks” or “this is the best book/record/whatever in the history of humanity.” Reviewers who give a middle rating seem to at least provide some explanation. Nonetheless the wheat:chaff ratio in Amazon ratings is not particularly good, and the “helpful” votes, while… um, helpful, are at best an imperfect measure.

29 Rahul December 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Are Scandanavian (rather, Danish) relationships more dysfunctional and darker than the rest of the world or do they only make movies that make it seem so?

e.g. Festen, Adams æbler, Italiensk for begyndere, Die grünen Schlachter etc.

30 Mikael December 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

It’s Scand*i*navian (sorry).

I have a silly theory: the Danish see themselves as very happy (they often top lists of the happiest people on Earth) which is why directors like to shoot miserable movies – to taunt the smug Danish Everyman and just because it is interesting to look at the dark side of things. Similarly, other Scandinavian countries seem to produce mostly depressive movies, and the same is true for Austria. They (we) are perhaps a bit too smug and comfortable for our own good.

31 Saturos December 8, 2012 at 1:13 am

Wait, does this mean Tyler recently just read this guy? Along with all the other books he says he’s recently been reading? Doesn’t he also have a day job? … how??

32 Brock December 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Hyperlexia. I’m serious. Tyler will read an entire article in the time it takes you to read the headline.

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