Thursday, November 13, 2014

Karl Ove Knausgaard on brothers

KARL Ove Knausgaard is a Norwegian writer whose monumental book, Min Kamp (My Struggle: Book One), is what I'm currently reading. Critics call the 3500-page autobiography monumental; I can see why. There's nothing so special about the subject--his life--but he writes in such a way that keeps the reader, any reader, hooked. Compelling: that's the word for it. He keeps us interested, finding meaning in the minutiae of life: his breakfast, his band, his first pseudo-sexual experience, his father's death. One of my favorite book critics, James Wood of The New Yorker, said that "even when [he] was bored, [he] was interested."

In between major narratives are his reflections on various subjects. A favorite so far is about brothers, a topic close to my heart, because I have two of them.

Almost everything you know about your brother you know from intuition. I never knew what Yngve was thinking, seldom had an inkling as to why he did the things he did, didn't seem to share so many of his opinions, but I could make a reasonable guess, in these respects he was as unknown as everyone else. But I knew his body language, I knew his gestures, I knew his aroma, I was aware of all the nuances of his voice, and, not least, I knew where he came from. I could put none of this into words, and it was seldom articulated in thought, but it meant everything.



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