Karl Ove Knausgaard, Trans. by Don Bartlett & Martin Aitken
PositiveLondon Review of Books...it exercises a certain fascination that keeps you reading. This fascination is what a proper reviewer would have to analyse ... the parts with the children are quite delightful, it is good there are three of them for variety, and we look forward to a daily life with them which is not an event but a lively routine ... The writing is, however, undistinguished, at least in translation ... You do not read it for the style, except for the conversations, which are often unobtrusively witty and entertaining ... I will call Knausgaard’s kind of writing ‘itemisation’ ... it is not only the objects Karl Ove buys and uses that are itemised here: it is the people, the emotions and feelings, the thoughts, that are itemised as well. This is why the innumerable sentences in these thousands of pages – varied as they may be – fail to pass the supreme test of any postmodern aesthetics ... Variety being the spice of life, we have to conclude, regretfully, that these pages do not quite enliven the palate ... Knausgaard has here hit on the great reality, the great mystery, of the world, which has little enough to do with nature, death, or whatever other grand metaphysical themes I’m forgetting here. It has to do with the hapless attempt of a biologically incomplete being to claim some mental or spiritual completeness ... So even if I cannot advise you to read it, I can certainly advise rereading it, as one might leaf through a journal or a diary and follow a few paragraphs before putting it down again.