Monday, 23 October 2017

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard

"Nearly all my dreams are set in landscapes I moved away from long ago, as if I had left something behind there that was never concluded"

Autumn is the first of four seasonal books making up an encyclopaedia, of sorts, that Knausgaard has written in order to make sense of the World for his unborn daughter. In places the book takes the form of letters directly to his daughter whilst in others the book comprises short musings on topics as varied as Vomit, The Migration of Birds and Oil Tankers.

Although this project is about the big things that Knausgaard wants to prepare his daughter for its also a fascinating glimpse into the way he himself sees the World. Knausgaard has bared his soul already in the deeply personal My Struggle series in which he blends memoir and literature in a way that feels authentic and visceral. In Autumn, he's essentially continuing the theme presenting little nuggets of insight into his life and into Norwegian culture.

Some of the chapters deal with the everyday like oil tankers and plastic bags but even with the most mundane of subjects Knausgaard's writing is lyrical and never prosaic; "The plastic bag has something inviolable about it, it seems to exist in a place beyond everything else, including time and its inexorable modality".

Autumn is a book for readers familiar with Knausgaard's style and character. Without having read at least part of the My Stuggle series you might possibly be left wondering what all the fuss is about (a totally Knausgaardian sentiment). Yes the chapters in Autumn lack a narrative or an a over-arching theme but the prose remains consistently original; "Nearly all my dreams are set in landscapes I moved away from long ago, as if I had left something behind there that was never concluded.

Hats off to Karl Ove Knausgaard for attempting such as bold endeavour as to curate his own encyclopaedia! 

I read this novel on Kindle on the Tube between meetings.

Autumn by Karl One Knausgaard published by Vintage, 188 pages.     

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