In his essays Knausgaard confronts common household objects and the most basic natural phenomena... Knausgaard’s aim is to re-see the everyday. And he does this in his idiosyncratic way, determinedly following the path of his darting thoughts, the way a hunter (better, a videographer, because he wants it alive) might track a rabbit... Knausgaard wrote these essays, he said in an interview, 'for fun.' And they are fun...and stunning and glorious. But Knausgaard is not funny. He’s perhaps wry ... These essays will not intimidate anybody by their length; most are two to four pages ... Yet even in the small space of these works, Knausgaard is able to ask intelligent 'naive' questions in the midst of discoveries, observations, and contemplations. It’s not agreeing or disagreeing with his opinions or being intimately connected to his experiences that is so gripping; it’s the seemingly endless stirring of his thoughts about the wide world out there that helps to stir ours.
Winter, the second volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s seasonal quartet, is a continuing crash course in living for the author’s soon-to-be-born daughter and a stopgap for readers awaiting the arrival of the last volume of My Struggle ... He has a Wallace Stevens mind of winter, beholding the 'nothing that is not there and the nothing that is' — ultimately leading to the nothing interesting. The short essays that make up this book are, on balance, dull and repetitive. They all emphasize the same worn point: Winter is about death, and death is coming for all of us ... At its best and most personal, the book underscores the sense of fragility that parents feel in preparing for a newborn ... Despite this sporadic beauty, the pages, like snow, begin to pile up without leaving much behind. His thoughts become predictable and reductive. He keeps hammering the point that humankind is constantly trying to avoid death; it’s less clear why this is a bad idea.
Winter, the second collection of essays in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 'four seasons' quartet, comprises 60 short pieces, punctuated by three letters addressed to his youngest daughter. Framed as a 'lexicon for an unborn child,' the collection evokes the shape of nondirected, unbounded thought, and an artist’s sensibility, free from conventional judgments of what’s worth noticing ...most of the essays in Winter read like excerpts from, or preambles to, longer essays. They read not just as though their initiating subjects were noticed quickly but as though they were written quickly; they seem uninterested in pursuing the goals of the short essay, which are precision, originality and speed ... Fans of My Struggle will find some finely articulated passages in Winter, written by a gentler, more mildly tempered narrator than that of the longer books ... Or perhaps I should be less judgmental of an artist who tries new things and works against his natural style. Perhaps I should admire Knausgaard for daring to become an amateur again.
Winter, the second in a quick-fire seasonal quartet published in Norwegian two years ago, repeats the formula for the run-up to her birth early in 2014, with 60 prose pieces between two and five pages long on everything from cotton buds to the 1970s and 'hollow spaces' ... When Knausgaard exposes himself in the manner of his autobiographical novel My Struggle – admitting he’s afraid of women ('I fear… I will be found lacking') or describing a humiliating flare-up when his daughter won’t sit down to lunch – it’s interesting enough. But he becomes more charming and persuasive when Knausgaard wanders into quizzical speculation... Knausgaard isn’t the silkiest writer – there’s a 200-word whopper of an awkward sentence on the very first page – but combing over his prose feels a bit like reporting on a football match by watching the grass: fundamental and yet somehow unimportant.
What gives the books purpose and form is the series of letters to an unborn/newborn daughter that introduce each month of entries ... Still, never in Autumn nor Winter does Knausgaard address the question of whether having children has taken any time away from his work, nor whether his work (done in isolation, in a separate house on the property where he can safely look across the lawn at his family-filled home from a quiet distance) has impacted his ability to be a parent ... Much of Winter is darker and starker than Autumn, which is in keeping with the season’s themes. There are many descriptions of silence, ice and snow, and allusions to death, though in 'Christmas Presents' and elsewhere, Knausgaard perforates the darkness with warm stories of playful parenting... Like the father in the film, he will open the world — primarily for himself, so that he can achieve as an artist, but also for his children.
Though his new release Winter abandons the earlier work’s severely confessional writing, readers will find it equally sincere, if somewhat less dramatic ...an intriguing read, and since his hometown critics have acclaimed the other volumes, we clearly have much to look forward to when Spring and Summer arrive here ... He begins each month with an earnest, almost cloying direct speech to the fetus and then settles into a range of voices that teach, preach, philosophize, and perform. Each month comprises 20 topics, each essay two to three pages ... The reader comes to understand that topics justify themselves, as they can introduce us to an observed life and a meditation on how life is separate from the inanimate ... The essays in Winter display an admirable refinement of the earnestness that drew so many readers to the earlier work.
By the second season Winter, the algorithm—look at something outside one’s self, try to follow the thread—begins to weaken for Knausgaard. Has he exhausted the strategy? One late entry, ‘Habits’, obliquely questions the whole project. The speaker seems to fear he has become too good at the formula ... insights are unstable, and transient; it would be more than misleading for any of them to be center stage for too long as the answer to the mystery that seems to drive Knausgaard’s literary production.
In Winter, his mind turns to owls, coins, chairs, mess, toothbrushes, hollow spaces, bonfires, manholes, even Q-tips, even ears. The nouns are triggers. They are pursued. They set Knausgaard off into his signature swerves — long sentences, full-page paragraphs, free associations, basic facts, leisurely hypotheticals ... There is a density to Knausgaard’s work, a potential tedium that the author avoids by regulating the rhythms within and across the pieces. Just when we’ve had enough of his transcending omnipresence, Knausgaard delivers a personal, date-stamped scene. Just when we begin to lose ourselves inside his ranging, clever clauses, he slams on the brakes — leaving us out of breath on some unexpected landscape ... Knausgaard has, it seems, given himself the task of making the once-strange strange once more — not just for his daughter, but for us. He buckles his language. He pivots his thoughts. We follow where he leads.
With Autumn and Winter...he has shifted his gaze from his own navel to the experiences, objects, and settings of daily life ... Not all of the essays hit the mark, and a few repeat themselves ... But the great essays excuse the trifles ... When reading these essays, I sometimes paused to ask if Knausgaard was pulling the wool over my eyes with the beauty his prose alone. But no, he doesn’t. While Knausgaard isn’t for everyone, Winter reaches at emotions and common experiences that lay dusty in all of us. Somehow, he’s distilled his trademark depth of thought and feeling into a commute-friendly series of fireside chats.
The book is the second of four collections of letters written by Knausgaard to his unborn daughter, explaining . . . well, mostly explaining the bleeding obvious. In Winter, he ruminates pointlessly on stuffed animals, sexual desire and ears (among many other things). Even the little Knausgaard foetus probably found herself rolling her eyes at some of her dad’s more extravagant banalities ... Winter fails because it lacks specificity. Unmoored from the details of his life, he flails.
Like its predecessor, Winter is divided into the season’s three months, each preceded with a letter to Knausgaard’s unborn daughter (January is addressed to 'my newborn daughter,' as she was born prematurely). It’s a touching gesture, though one wonders what her reaction will be when she reads these books and discovers not Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, but rather mini-treatises on Q-tips, safety reflectors, spilled petrol and sexual desire ... The few winter-specific entries offer some lovely evocations of the snowbound Scandinavian landscape that will resonate with Knausgaard’s latitudinal neighbours. Even when discussing other subjects, though, the essays as a whole reflect the season’s mood of quiet introversion.
Throughout the book, a seemingly limitless range of topics pop up, swirl about in Knausgaard’s characteristically precise cycle of thought, and subside into the background hum of this contemporary master’s autobiographical breviary ... Although this volume is boundless in scope and possessed of limitless intellectual energy, readers with a preference for conventional plot devices will perhaps better enjoy Knausgaard’s world-famous My Struggle.
The fascination of Winter lies in watching where the sizzling gunpowder trail of the Knausgaard mind goes. It's often unpredictable, profound, sometimes wryly humorous. It's also wintry, in tone and content ... His essays, too, are often wild rides that end breathless and alive.
...he has shown an engaging facility for this shorter form that makes its pieces, ranging over much of human experience, a consistent pleasure to read ... He seems similarly determined here to illuminate life, in all its absurdity and grace, to this soon-to-arrive child .... In the 60 pieces comprising Winter, Knausgaard again is an acute observer of the natural world and the dynamics of domesticity ... Along with Knausgaard's gift for word portraits like these, one of the great pleasures of his essays is his consistent ability to pivot from some quotidian observation to open onto a larger truth ...Knausgaard is a slightly bemused witness to his family's life.
This is the second book in a planned quartet that Knausgaard conceived as a kind of welcoming present for his newborn daughter, collecting brief musings on a variety of quotidian subjects, written as if one were seeing the world anew ... Here, the author sticks to more elemental matters, drawing heavily on nature and Scandinavian folklore, while also writing more personally about friends and the messiness of family life ... Where the prevailing mood in Knausgaard’s My Struggle novels is anxiety, these seasonal books are propelled by his sense of wonder ... A winningly interior journey into the most interior of seasons.
This second installment in a season-inspired quartet finds Knausgaard in a less autobiographical, more philosophical mood than in his six-volume fictionalized memoir, My Struggle .... Whatever the subject, his pieces typically distill into a final reverberating, breath-catching image, such as of his elderly father with 'winter in his soul, winter in his mind, winter in his heart' ... More poignant are the two letters addressed to an unborn daughter, and a third addressed to her as a newborn, in which the author is unusually direct and, one senses, sincere ... Knausgaard’s prose performs the real work of literature as he describes it: 'If the true task of poetry is revelation, this is what it should reveal, that reality is what it is.'