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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Summer by Karl Ove Knausgaard – review | Books - The Guardian

"The last volume of the Norwegian author’s Seasons quartet will keep his fans occupied, if not entirely satisfied" notes Andrew Anthony, writing for the Observer and for the Guardian.
Unearthing the mysteries of the commonplace: Karl Ove Knausgaard.
Photo: Richard Saker for the Observer

It’s a slightly confusing situation for Karl Ove Knausgaard fans that while the sixth and final part of the My Struggle series has still to be published in English (due later this year), a whole different cycle – the Seasons quartet – has filled the intervening lull.

The fourth book of that quartet is Summer, which again mixes diary entries and a selection of personal encyclopaedia entries ostensibly addressed to his youngest daughter, along with a piece of fiction set during the second world war and based on a story his grandfather told him, which he drops tantalisingly into his writing almost like an actor suddenly changing character.

It’s been an uneven series, by turns showing Knausgaard at his finest, as a writer grappling to see the world with utterly fresh eyes, and his most banal, trotting out his familiar tropes of domestic duties and bucolic descriptions.

For those of us who entered a kind of deep narcotic state before the mesmerising sensory overload of My Struggle, the Seasons quartet has been a bit like a methadone programme: keeping withdrawal at bay without ever quite hitting the spot.

The last book, Spring, was the most revealingly autobiographical, and thus most Knausgaardian as we’ve come to think of it. It touched on the strains within his marriage, in particular with regard to his wife Linda’s bipolar depression, and Knausgaard once more subjected his own behaviour to candid and often unflattering analysis.

Despite the uplifting note on which Spring concluded, the marriage that filled hundreds of pages of My Struggle and produced four children has since ended. Though there is no sense of its impending demise in Summer, Linda has scarcely more than a walk-on part, a silent presence in the margins, referred to mostly only by her absence.

Summer begins with Knausgaard continuing his encyclopaedic summaries of things and concepts. Having in the previous books written mini-essays on such diverse subjects as thermos flasks, pain, jelly fish, sexual desire and manholes, he turns his singular attention to slugs, bats, fainting and electric hand mixers, which, he notes, unlike almost everything else human-made, resemble nothing else in nature.
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Source: The Guardian