Dear Knausgaard: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle

Kim Adrian. Fiction Advocate, $19.95 trade paper (194p) ISBN 978-0-9994316-5-8
Adrian (Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet) explores her fascination with Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard in this intriguing work of what she terms “lyric criticism.” Framing the book as a series of 25 letters addressed to Knausgaard, Adrian reckons with Knausgaard’s six-volume work of autofiction, My Struggle, and praises Knausgaard’s attention to detail as evidence of his thoughtfulness, realizing that “you pay such close attention to life because you pay such close attention to death.” But this work is less an homage to Knausgaard than a way for Adrian to reckon with her own reading habits. Those moments that praise Knausgaard’s magnum opus or wonder dreamily about his real life—two things, Adrian admits, that are hard to tell apart—pale in comparison to those places where Adrian ruthlessly interrogates the work and the literary world at large, especially the misogyny that she finds in both places. In examining how Knausgaard uses the word “feminine” throughout to connote weakness and a lack of substance, she reflects that “language is, in itself, hardly a neutral medium.” Adrian’s dynamic work of both literary and self-analysis will appeal to those passionate readers who have vacillated between adoring certain authors and wanting to throw their books across the room. Agent: Seren Adams, United Agents (U.K.). (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/05/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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