The best book I read this year

It is My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

I am far from alone. Rachel Cusk at The Guardian says it “deserves to be called perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our times.”  Tyler Cowen calls it “the equal of the great continental novels of the early part of the 20th century.”

But the comment that got me to buy the book came over dinner, from Cyrus Samii. It’s a book, he said, about the struggle between a man who wants to love his family but also become the great artist he thinks he might be.

Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, nor something that was meaningful or that made me happy. This had nothing to do with a lack of desire to wash floors or change diapers but rather with something more fundamental: the life around me was not meaningful. I always longed to be away from it. So the life I led was not my own. I tried to make it mine, this was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts.

Those of us striving for tenure and other recognition can’t but help see a little, maybe a lot of ourselves. This is possibly the most brutally honest and powerful book about fatherhood ever written.

It’s also a book about ideas. Really big ideas. But Leland de la Durantaye puts it well in the NYRB: “As with all great writers, the ideas or theories are woven into the story, dramatized, and this is as true of the question of what gives meaning as of any other question in the book.”

What really struck while reading this: Knausgaard describes his daily life as a mainly selfish artist in a staggering amount of detail. Staggeringly minute details. So minute you think the book would be unreadable. Yet it is the opposite. The man is an incredible writer and storyteller.

I have just started Book One (it’s not necessary to read them in order, I gather). Excellent so far.

24 thoughts on “The best book I read this year

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more.

    I got hooked on the series through Cowen’s recommendation as well. I read book 1 then 2 and am halfway through 3 right now. I would have to say book 2 was the best (so far) so hopefully you don’t lose interest.

  2. I AM HERE TO SHARE A TESTIMONY!!! OF MY LOAN OFFER

    Hello Every One, My Name is Mrs Cililer Martina i live in USA and life is worth living comfortably for me and my family now and i really have never seen goodness shown to me this much in my life as i am a struggling mum with three kids and i have been going through a serious problem as my son encountered a terrible accident last weeks, and the doctors states that he needs to undergo a delicate surgery for him to be able to walk again, and i could not afford the bill for his surgery then i went to the bank for a loan and they turn me down stating that i have no credit card, from there i run to my father and he was not able to help, then when i was browsing through yahoo answers and i came across a loan lender Rev Victor who provides loans at an affordable interest rate and i have been hearing about so many scams on the internet but at this my desperate situation, i had no choice than to give it an attempt and surprisingly it was all like a dream, i received a loan of $150,000 USD and i payed for my son surgery and thank GOD today he is okay and can walk and is working and the burden is no longer so much on me any more and we can feed well and my family is happy today and i said to my self that i will shout aloud to the world of the wonders of GOD to me through this GOD fearing lender Rev Victor and i will advise anyone in genuine and serious need of loan to contact this GOD fearing woman via [email protected] and i want you all to pray for this woman for me. THANKS Mrs Cililer Martina