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Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. from the Norwegian by Ingvild Burkey. Yale Univ., $18 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-300-22151-0

Novelist Knausgaard (My Struggle: Book Six) lends his voice to the Why I Write series (following Patti Smith’s opening entry, Devotion), grappling with the theme of the series in a characteristically self-effacing and sometimes meandering ways. He begins by recounting formative literary experiences: bringing home book-filled shopping bags from the local library, and the day his mother gave him Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, a key moment in establishing literature as “a hiding place for me, and at the same time a place where I became visible.” From there he recalls first attempts at writing literary fiction in his late teens, first by himself and then at a creative writing course. Aspiring writers will find comfort in Knausgaard’s candor, which allows him to frankly reveal the feelings of inadequacy and fraudulence with which he has struggled. Unsurprisingly, the book’s autobiographical aspects are the most inspired; by comparison, Knausgaard’s critical comments about Tolstoy, Munch, Van Gogh, and Game of Thrones sometimes veer into the trite. Though Knausgaard offers some profound insights into writing as a craft, his signature self-awareness does not serve him well; his inability to settle on an answer to the central question renders this a scattershot work. (Sept.)