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My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love Hardcover – May 14, 2013

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Editorial Reviews



A 2013 Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year

"What's notable is Karl Ove's ability, rare these days, to be fully present in and mindful of his own existence. Every detail is put down without apparent vanity or decoration, as if the writing and the living are happening simultaneously. There shouldn't be anything remarkable about any of it except for the fact that it immerses you totally. You live his life with him. . . . The overweening absurdity of Ove's title is a bad joke that keeps coming back to you as you try to construct a life worthy of an adult. How to be more present, more mindful? Of ourselves, of others? For others?" — Zadie Smith, The New York Review of Books

"The book investigates the bottomless accumulation of mysteries everyday life imposes. . . Knausgaard's approach is plain and scrupulous, sometimes casual, yet he never writes down. His subject is the beauty and terror of the fact that all life coexists with itself. A living hero who landed on greatness by abandoning every typical literary feint, an emperor whose nakedness surpasses royal finery." — Jonathan Lethem, The Guardian

"Knausgaard doesn't always present himself as father-of-the-year material, sweating how much time he'll have to research and write his second novel and squabbling with his family and fussy neighbors in the search for some peace and quiet. . . But his candor, if not his attitude, is admirable—he's not rationalizing his behavior but flatly, honestly representing it. A patient exploration of courtship and fatherhood stripped clean of politesse." — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"...reading My Struggle, you have the sense that Knausgaard has made a wonderful discovery, an almost scientific innovation. My Struggle is something new, something brave..." — n + 1

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume memoir “My Struggle” (Archipelago Books) — of which three volumes have been translated into English — has catapulted the Norwegian writer into the rarefied company of such authors as James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Henry Miller. These writers burst forth with a new consciousness and in so doing became the voice of their generation. Years hence we will be talking about Knausgaard’s incredibly detailed memoir cycle doing the same for the late 20th century." — The Providence Journal

"Knausgaard has written one of those books so aesthetically forceful as to be revolutionary ... The digressiveness of Sebald or Proust is transposed into direct, unmetaphorical language, pushing the novel almost to the edge of unreadability, where it turns out to be addicting and hypnotic. A man has written a book in which a man stays at home with his kids, and his home life isn’t trivialized or diminished but studied and appreciated, resisted and embraced. An almost Christian feeling of spiritual urgency makes even the slowest pages about squeezing lemon on a lobster into a hymn about trying to be good." --The Paris Review

"Why would you read a six-­volume, 3,600-page Norwegian novel about a man writing a six-­volume, 3,600-page Norwegian novel? The short answer is that it is breathtakingly good, and so you cannot stop yourself, and would not want to ... Arrestingly beautiful."  —The New York Times Book Review

"I read both books [One and Two] hungrily and find myself already missing Knausgaard just a few days after turning A Man in Love’s last page, searching the Web for inexpensive crash courses in Norwegian, mostly just wishing Volume Three were available in English now." —Jonathan Callahan, The Millions

"Achieves an aching intimacy, one that transcends the personal and makes Knausgaard’s pursuit of grand artistic ideals, his daily joys and misgivings, strangely familiar." Time Out New York

"His work ranks as one of the most memorable reading experiences of my life. There has been, for me, nothing quite like it. Karl Ove makes me see better. I have not wanted his books to end because I have not wanted to unmerge with him. He writes of longing to be back in 'the maniacal, the lonely, the happy place' he achieved while writing. In my own maniacal, lonely happiness, away from the world for a time, away from the human pull, I found comfort in knowing that, despite his deep craving for distance and work, Knausgaard remains loyal to the human world, to being open to what it offers." — Nina MacLaughlin, L.A. Review of Books

"[T]he book sears the reader because Knausgaard is a passionate idealist and not just a tetchy complainer. He wants to create great art, and he wants to fight the conformity and homogeneity of modern bourgeois existence."   —James Wood, The New Yorker

"While not unconcerned with finding objective truth in the moments he recounts, Mr. Knausgaard aims first to simply record them, to try to shape the banal into something worth remembering. Beautifully rendered and, at times, painfully observant, his book does a superlative job of finding that 'inner core of human existence.' If his first volume was his struggle to cope with death, this is his struggle to cope with life."    
— The Wall Street Journal

"Achieves an aching intimacy, one that transcends the personal and makes Knausgaard’s pursuit of grand artistic ideals, his daily joys and misgivings, strangely familiar." —  Time Out New York

"That something subtitled “Book 2” might be called the most interesting literary development of the year surprises me; also surprising to me is that something I feel comfortable terming “the most interesting literary development” includes a long section detailing the narrator’s attendance at “Rhythm Time,” a music class for infants. But Book 2 (of six) of the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 3,600-page autobiographical novel of family life, “My Struggle,” reveals that the tome grows only more substantive, comical and artistically singular as it proceeds." — Rivka Galchen, New York Times Book Review

"A masterpiece of staggering originality, the literary event of the century ... Life here and now, examined at a fever pitch, daily recollections recounted in exhausting but exhilarating detail." — Arlice Davenport, Wichita Eagle

"KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD. MY STRUGGLE. It's unbelievable. I just read 200 pages of it and I need the next volume like crack." — Zadie Smith, via Twitter

"A six-volume literary experiment in which a contemporary Norwegian author describes his own life may sound dull. But Knausgaard's literary experiment is both brutally honest and far from dull. Trust me, it'll be worth waiting for volumes three through six to appear in English translation." — Jo Nesbo, in The Week (one of Jo Nesbo's six favorite books)

Karl Ove Knausgaard continues to astound, with this second volume concentrating on his marriage and his art. Sometimes it’s marriage versus art, and that friction gives this book a terrific range of emotions. Conversations with his friends provide a good view into the different ways Norwegians and Swedes go about life. Is it fiction? Memoir? No one could remember verbatim the conversations recounted at length here, and that, too, is as fine a balancing act as Knausgaard’s depiction of himself as writer and father/husband." — Jeff Bursey, in Conversational Reading

"Quite simply this is one of the best novels ever written." — Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University and co-author of the Marginal Revolution blog, in Bloomberg

"The way in which Knausgaard seeks to expose the dark, regressive aspects of his own character within the context of a life that is, in most respects, quite ordinary is precisely what allows these books to transcend their narrowly personal foundations."Sydney Review of Books

"Volumes 1 and 2 of Karl Ove Knausgård's epic novel/memoir My Struggle (Harvill Secker) blew me away: totally immersive, collapsing the wall between author and reader as you live his life alongside him. It's somehow triumphant and redemptive – and powerfully addictive – even as it recounts the most apparently mundane aspects of life. He's a genius." — Simon Prosser, Publisher, Hamish Hamilton, in The Guardian

"Second in a six-volume magnum opus that Archipelago has bravely committed to bring us, this magisterial work gives us a character named Karl Ove Knausgaard who abandons his wife, moves to Stockholm, and discovers new love—and the travails of starting a new family." — Library Journal (Best Fiction in Translation 2013)

"Both Knausgaard’s Proustian style and the fact that his work is one long book stretched out into many volumes, just like In Search of Lost Time, should signal that it’s a literary event the likes of which we probably will not see again in our lifetimes. . . . Unlike almost every other work of art released in the 21st century, Knausgaard’s massive book is an ongoing cultural event that we’re being afforded the opportunity to savor." — Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
 "...The structure of Vol 2 is intricate and fascinating ... Knausgaard strings out for the length of the entire volume this utterly hilarious and tabloid-level fascinating story ... the sort of an anecdote that Knausgaard tells like nobody else can. (Oh, and on that subject, the section where Knausgaard’s wife gives birth to their first child is simply AMAZING; it is long and drawn out and excruciating and simply shows realist writing at its very, very best. I think I almost fainted.)" — Scott Esposito, Three Percent

About the Author

Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of This World won the Norwegian Critics Prize in 2004 and his A Time for Everything(Archipelago) was a finalist for the Nordic Council Prize. For My Struggle Book One, Knausgaard received the Brage Award in 2009, the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, and the P2 Listeners’ Prize. My Struggle has been translated into more than fifteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and three children.

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Product Details

  • Series: My Struggle (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago; Reprint edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935744828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744825
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Literary Lizzie on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The odd thing about Knausgaard is that though he writes almost entirely about everyday events of the most mundane nature--family, children, social life, hopes and problems--his writing creates a continuous sense of tension, as if something startling or dreadful or life changing might happen at any minute. But it doesn't. It just flows into the next homely situation, or recollects some equally common human experience or dilemma from his past. I can just hear many readers complaining about this, in one way or another. If it were a film they would really complain.

But the tension is dramatic. Many of us live with a kind of tension in our lives, especially if we're given to be the more creative, introverted and sensitive sort of person. This everyday tension makes it feel real and oddly important, without cataclysm or climax. Life is made up of a connection of nearly random details that may finally create change--and in Knausgaard you are aware of this build up, you may feel a sort of dread of the change and you are drawn into its drama.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Knausgaard's writes about everyday life. But for him, daily routines and duties are endured rather than enjoyed. "So the life I led was not my own," he says. "I tried to make it mine. This was my struggle."

His book is personal, profound and quotidian; it is also a journal rather than a true novel. The author shares his disrespect for fictional writing and documentary narrative, both of which, he contends, have no value. Instead, he argues that diaries and essays confer meaning because they consist of "the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet."

The author's gaze in My Struggle looks upon the details of daily life and uses them to illuminate the larger themes of love, friendship, marriage, parenthood, Swedish versus Norwegian lifestyle, art and the act of creation, mortality and how to prepare meals for toddlers. The strongest part of the book is in the opening 200 pages in which Karl Ove acts as husband and father; loving both roles but struggling greatly in the daily acts that make those roles a reality. He experiences feelings of helplessness and anger in a painful visit to Fairy Tale Land. His loss of masculine self-image is felt when he cannot get his wife out of a locked bathroom at a party. A pitiful effort to maintain space from other people as he reads in a coffee shop displays his feelings of alienation. The inability to resolve conflict in a civilized Swedish environment is obvious in a conflict with a neighbor over loud music. The pressure to spend time with people whose only relationship to him is that their children know each other is developed in a scene at a child's birthday party.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David Bradford on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading this book was an amazing experience for me. The writer lays bare his very soul. I find it difficult to analyse why this book and his earlier book 'A Death in the Family' made such a huge impression. My life has been nothing like this man's life, I am much older than he is, we are not at all alike, we live in totally different parts of the world with greatly different climates, I am not heterosexual and I've never experienced bringing up children. Yet, His thoughts resonate with me. I am sorry to have finished reading; each day I purposely kept my daily reading to a limited number of pages to spin out the enjoyment. The writer says about reading Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks that for him every page brought pleasure. I felt exactly the same about this book. I hope the English translation of the next four books in his life saga are not too long in making their appearance! I shall be eagerly awaiting them.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Fragale on January 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Having just finished My Struggle book II I find myself agreeing with another reviewer in that it was unputdownable. My question that I keep coming back to though is why? What makes these books so compelling and readable? At first this one actually started out a bit slow for me; the first 20-30 pages I started to feel a bit bored but then before I even knew it I was sucked in again into Karl Ove’s world. The writing is good, but to be honest it’s nothing extraordinary. There is a certain visceral honesty and unforgiving openness that draws the reader into this fascinating but altogether ordinary world where he deals with love, family, children, friends, parties, alcoholic neighbor, and some of the struggle that comes with fame. A part of me cringes at how honest and ruthless he can be in his descriptions of his kids and their Mom and I can only wonder the effect it had on his relationship afterwards. At the same time one has to respect someone who is that honest and open with their feelings; his book is almost like a heavy dose of reality TV only all the action takes place inside his head. I also think another part of the appeal is that it’s so foreign. It takes place in Norway and Sweden and I find myself wondering from time to time if I would feel this compelled to follow his life and thoughts if it took place in Nebraska or even in Chicago or New York? A big part of me I think was intrigued by how someone in Norway and Sweden lives. It strikes home the point that no matter where we live, what country what city, we are all basically the same in that we all struggle with the same fears, anxieties over family and jobs and children and love; the struggle that Karl Ove describes is universal. Can't wait for book III!
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