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Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fear, trembling and exhilaration of childhood, 6 May 2014
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This review is from: Boyhood Island: My Struggle Book 3 (Knausgaard) (Hardcover)
This is my first Knausgaard. I liked the lucid prose and was pained by the childhood knots and embarrassments and Karl Ove's fear of his bullying father. And then there are the fresh, as-if-it-happened-yesterday descriptions of romps in the forest, the friendships interwoven with pre-teen complexes to do with acceptance/rejection, the landscape of a Norwegian island, holidays on his grandparents' farm, the first, awkward sexual experimentations. And the question which nags as you read - his mum was so nice, why couldn't she rescue him from his dad's rages? (The father did keep his more sadistic outbursts for when she wasn't around). But then isn't this why childhood can be so painful - you don't disclose your deepest fears to anyone? But with the immediacy of childhood, Karl Ove can be feeling stuck and deeply despondent and then suddenly he is out there on his bike looking for discarded porn mags with his friend Geir, very much in the moment. Excellent writing in many ways.
Why not five stars? Well, I have to admit that there were a few paragraphs which interested me less, with their detailed long descriptions and I skim-read them. But when I focused back in, it was always worth it and the scenes came alive. The final impression is of a most vivid portrayal of this boy's childhood, his acute sensitivities and his resilience, and it cannot but resonate with many aspects of any reader's childhood too.
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Initial post: 8 Jul 2015, 17:29:42 BST
Last edited by the author on 8 Jul 2015, 17:30:56 BST
KIKAREN says:
Like you, I have only read Boyhood Island and like you, I am at a loss to understand his mother's attitude.
I had a very similar father to Karl Ove's, not sadistic but violent and with an uncontrollable temper. What really resonated for me was how Karl Ove never knew what he had done wrong; what had precipitated the violence. So familiar: stuff I had buried.
I left home as soon as I could legally, aged sixteen and my younger brother did the same. My mum spent the rest of her life trying to reel us both back in: a high price for her non-intervention.
But in fact it is Karl Ove's final observation, on almost the very last page about the boys and the sexually aware, beautiful young girls; what happened to them all? Did they become actresses or models? Porn stars maybe? No, they were blue-collar through and through and never got away; married teachers and bus drivers and had two kids and are still there, raising their own children. I hope and pray that they are doing it with more kindness than Knausgaard's dad.
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