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on 14 June 2017
This is the first in the fictional autobiographical series, provocatively entitled after Adolf Hitler’s notorious book. It is a coruscatingly honest account of the author’s childhood and youth, and his relationship with his difficult father, growing up in Norway (Knausgaard was born in 1968). The narrative alternates with his adult life as an author in Sweden and also covers in detail the aftermath of his father’s death in 1998, and the abysmal mess his life amounted to, and the squalor in which and his own mother lived. The work covers in forensic detail memories, with a deep intellectual focus on human behaviour and motivations. It is an utterly absorbing read, a study of life in all its panoply of wonder, horror and banality. Regardless of the accusation that Knausgaard has been too explicit in writing about the faults and foibles of his family, lightly fictionalised, this is a captivating book (and series)
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on 1 November 2016
I got to the end but read only half of this book, skimming through page after page of Norwegian scenery or interiors and details like, 'I stood up, sat down, turned on the tap, closed the door'. Knausgaard also reflects endlessly on life, death and art. However, I do admit I could feel the snow, the cold, the iciness of the landscape. And what is brilliantly conveyed and I suppose what all the fuss is about is his love/hate relationship with his father who was both cruel and kind, charismatic and pathetic, thoughtful but in the end, a drunk.

There are two wonderful sequences: one New Year’s Eve when Knausgaard is 16 years old (here the details work); and the days following his father’s death, preparation for the funeral when Knausgaard redeems all his earlier bad behaviour and traits. I will most definitely read the follow-up, but as yet don’t rate this as highly as say, Blake Morrison’s And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Freak Out!: My Life With Frank Zappa
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on 23 February 2015
When the author is describing at one point in this book what it feels like to be drunk he talks of how it makes the unbearable banality of his world seem radiant. That is what he achieves in the book as a whole. It is a book like no other I have read - often dealing in great detail with the mundane everyday world but dealing with aspects of it - the moments of youthful embarrassment and gaucheness, of drunkenness and awkwardness with girlfriends - which are rarely dealt with outside comic novels. And alongside this Knausgaard deals with the huge questions of love and sex and family and, above all, death (which frames this part of the novel). It seems at first to be a very loose almost stream-of-consciousness structure, with constant digressions and journeys back and forward in time. But at the heart of it is the narrator's love-hate relationship with his father. It is interesting that this modern day author starts his long Proust-like series of novels with an exploration of the narrator's relationship with his father, just as Proust did with his relationship with his mother. It has all the makings of being a unique journey and I look forward to experiencing more of both the unbearable banality and the radiance along the way.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 September 2014
it is very unusual for me to finish reading a book of 430 pages and not be quite sure what I think about it.

This is certainly different and is like a very long drawn out diary mixed together from different periods of the author's life. The two parts, between them, cover events early in the life of Karl Ove, including his attempt to get to a New Year's party and get drunk as a teenager, his first encounters with girls, and in the second part, his life as a writer in Sweden with his heavily pregnant wife and his intention to write a new kind of book, and then most memorably the death of his father, returning to his grandparents' home with his brother Yngve, and putting it to rights after his alcoholic father has filled it with bottles, clothes filled with excerement and urine and so forth, and living for a few days with his grandmother whose mind has started to 'unravel' in family terminology. But at each step along the line, there are lengthy digressions, as in Part Two an account of Karl Ove's relations with his brother, and of a couple of interviews he conducted (one with his brother) as a teenager….

Much of this is very memorable, somehow. So I suspect I will be making my way forward to volume 2, despite the sense that I can't make head or tail of it.

This US hardback edition is an attractive physical object, by the way, and the layout makes it easy to read the long paragraphs of free association.
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on 27 October 2017
Five stars = I love it, one star = I hate it. For me this book is both, hence three stars, It's OK
Five stars because I love all the detail; one can see the scene and feel the emotion.
One star because I hate all the detail; I don't need to be told so much, leave something to the imagination e.g. half a page to describe getting a cup of coffee!
Will I read any more of Karl Ove Knausgaard?
Hmmm, not sure; my reading list list is very full, so probably not
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on 10 December 2014
The book begins and ends with death. The very first page reflects on the strange acceptance in society that death is something secret; hidden away. We rarely see a dead body ; when someone dies their bodies are covered over, taken away, put in a room. And the last page of the book shows Karl Ove looking at the dead body of his father.

Nothing really happens in this book to surprise you and yet this is the sort of book that you crawl into and it becomes part of your life. I found myself thinking about Karl Ove all the time . There were so many stories and incidents to mull over. Each one detailed, intriguing yet without a "punch line" or conclusion.

Karl hated his father yet was devastated when he died. He spent his life trying to impress his Father but yet let the years go by without seeing or contacting him. His brother who was unambiguous in his hate for his father seemed less affected by his death as, in his life, he seemed to have been able to escape from the effects of their difficult childhood.

Although we are made aware that their father is thoughtless and even cruel at times none of the incidents described really explain the nature of the cruelty in any specific way . We are required to read between the lines to understand what really went on . When the father wanted to improve his relationship with Karl Ove he took him fishing early in the morning . Karl Ove was freezing and hated it but didn't say anything. It is as if they years of not saying anything to his father spills over into a need to recount everything that he can remember in order to come to terms with his fathers death, and life.

Everything is described in detail, from the colours of the mountains to that of the flame from his Grandmother's roll up. Karl Ove examines life in its minutest detail in order, not so much to understand it , as it become part of it. At one point he muses on our ability to understand, or not understand everything . He feels that he does understand life and that if he is given new information he will just incorporate this into his knowledge. And yet he is often surprised at his own misunderstanding of people . By his own admission he examines them in depth and even then does not know them. He gives an example of his relationship with his grandmother whom he visited often, when at school. He was then told by his mother that his brooding presence upset his grandmother, she preferred his brothers lighthearted banter, and she asked his mother to tell him not to come so often. He had not realised that this was the impression that he was making. He has thought that he was succeeding in amusing them. This is a poignant example of the absence of any unconditional love in his life. When later in life he has a girl friend who seems to love him unconditionally he seems incapable of returning his love.

This is not what is referred to as "a good read". It is an absorbing, intriguing and disturbing read. I shall probably buy the next volume.
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on 6 March 2015
As another reviewer said, Knausgaard is a 'Marmite' author. I liked the style and depth of his writing, although wondering if the translator had anything to do with this but struggled and struggled with the fact that the father is an unpleasant soul, a dreadful man and I could not understand why his son should go on, and on about him! No, Knausgaard is nowehere near Proust in my opinion, he does write well but the subject matter is so dreary and I finally gave up at page 300 and flicked through to the end. I thought I'd like the angst but it defeated me!
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on 16 September 2017
I heard a brief extract of the author's (latest?) work on the radio and thought it poetic and moving. Alas, having bought the trilogy online, and after persevering half way through book 1, I have come to the conclusion that life is just too short and the number of interesting books too long for me to devote a further second on this tedious offering.
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on 3 September 2016
Aside from the publishers not spelling his name correctly (it is Knausgård not Knausgaard), this book is superb.
Knausgård has a unique ability to write in a way that is deeply reflective and yet wholly accessible.
His descriptions of his life are rich and engaging, while his musings upon a variety of topics (especially death in this volume) cause you, as a reader, to join him on his journey and to examine your own views on life and death.

It is clear even from the translation (which is excellent) that Knausgård is a special kind of writer who has the ability and wisdom to paint beautiful pictures through his writing and it was indeed a pleasure to read this book.

The book loses one star purely for the reason that I found the description of his teenage years slightly long and tedious, but the rest was a joy to read.

Highly recommended and thoroughly looking forward to the second and beyond!
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on 11 November 2016
I don't really hate it. I've read all five books that have been translated. But either the translation is appalling, or the original Norwegian is very wooden. Nobody is commenting in this aspect of these books. Is it because nobody cares about the beauty of the language anymore?
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