Book Four of Knausgaard's fictional memoir is cringe-worthy in the best way. The Norwegian's writing and storytelling is as beautiful as any of the other My Struggle books, but this one covers his years around the age of 18 and his ambition to begin his romantic escapades. It's certainly the funniest of the collection, even if it's at poor Karl Ove's expense. There's no need to read these novels in order, so try Book Four if you can empathize with an awkward 18-year-old with his first taste of freedom trying to find his way in an adult world. Recommended By Jeffrey J., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
My Struggle: Book 4 finds an eighteen-year-old Karl Ove Knausgaard in a tiny fishing village in northern Norway, where he has been hired as a schoolteacher and is living on his own for the first time. When the ferocious winter takes hold, Karl Ove — in the company of the Håfjord locals, a warm and earthy group who have spent their lives working, drinking, and joking together in close quarters — confronts private demons, reels from humiliations, and is elated by small victories. We are immersed, along with Karl Ove, in this world — sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes serenely beautiful — where memories and physical obsessions burn throughout the endless Arctic winter. In Book 4, Karl Ove must weigh the realities of his new life as a writer against everything he had believed it would be.
"With each volume of My Struggle that is published in English, Knausgaard emerges more clearly, in all his human ambiguity. Volume Four presents a portrait of the artist as a young man, marinated in alcohol and sexual failure. It is awkward, painful, occasionally shocking and often very funny, particularly if you have ever been (or known) a teenage boy." Hari Kunzru
"Unapologetically crude, this entry is the funniest and least self-conscious in the series to date; there's a humorous momentum propelling the narrative as Karl Ove attempts to lose his virginity." Publishers Weekly
"Of the four books in this series published in English thus far, this one is the most rhetorically conventional: Knausgaard employs humor, irony and melodrama in ways that he studiously avoided in previous episodes. But he's done so not to pander but to criticize, echoing the mindset of a sex-obsessed and callow young man still in his teens and unshaped as a person and as a writer. And when the story arrives at its climax (and you can likely guess what that involves), Knausgaard uses the plainspokenness that defined his previous books to powerfully evoke the depth of his obliviousness, the hollowness of his triumph. An entertaining portrait of the artist as a young lout." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. My Struggle has won countless international literary awards and has been translated into at least fifteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and four children.
Don Bartlett has translated dozens of books of various genres, including eight novels and short story collections by Jo Nesbø and It's Fine by Me by Per Petterson. He lives in Norfolk, England.