Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Life affirming stuff from the master of autobiographical fiction

Spring is the third in Knausgaard's Seasons Quartet penned for his unborn daughter. The first two books, Autumn and Winter, were a unique and personal encyclopaedia of miscellany; random musings around things that a father needs his daughter to know. In Spring however, we find a different Knausgaard explaining the family circumstances into which his new daughter will be born. 

The book tales place over the course of a single day which, as it happens, is Walpurgis Night when Swedes celebrate the arrival of Spring with singing and bonfires. With baby very nearly due emotions are running high and the reality of child number four leads to inevitable reflection. Knausgaard is renowned for revolutionising autobiographical fiction with his series My Struggle and with Spring he is back on form.

The book's key scenes take place in classic Knausgaard style. The family are staying at Ingmar Bergman's guest house on the island of Fogo when he wife's illness takes a significant change for the worse. Linda has been diagnosed with bi-polar and at times struggles to even get out of bed leaving Karl Ove to keep the wheels of family life turning alone.  

Knausgaard's idiosyncratic talent in articulating the mundane is evident throughout. On a literary festival visit to Sydney he is kept awake by jet lag and viewing the city through the dark and rain he is reminded of Bergen. In another scene Knausgaard is driving through the countryside when he is struck by a profound anxiety about his own ability as a father "It will turn out fine in the end, don't you think" he reassures himself. Life can be hard, we're told, but its always worth living.

Spring ends with a hopeful epilogue which sees Knuasgaard in a new place and with a new routine. There is always hope.

Both Autumn and Winter were intimate and frank but in Spring we find Knausgaard at his most soul baring in a work about the things that matter most to the man. Life affirming stuff from the master of autobiographical fiction.

Spring (Seasons Quartet 3) by Karl Ove Knausgaard published by Harvill Secker, 192 pages.     

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