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My Struggle: Book Three Hardcover – May 27, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the My Struggle Series

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Editorial Reviews


New York Times Notable Book of the Year


"Halfway through, this (six-volume) series is starting to look like an early-21st-century masterpiece." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“My Struggle is a truly original and enduring and great work of literature." -- The New York Times Book Review

"2014 was the Year of Knausgaard . . . the six-book memoir phenomenon My Struggle [is] . . . a page-turner that keeps readers turning pages, and talking about why they find Knausgaard so irresistible." -- Vanity Fair (11 Best Books of 2014)

"I fell into the first two books of My Struggle as if I were falling into a malarial fever. I did little else for four days except devour them, leaving email unanswered, dogs unwalked, dishes piling up in the sink. The steady headlamps of his prose stun and mesmerize you, as if you were a lumbering mammal caught in the middle of a highway . . . [Knausgaard] is contemporary fiction’s alchemist of the ordinary. . . . This writer is constructing a towering edifice, in what feels like real time. Few artistic projects of our era feel more worth attending to." -- Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Knausgaard’s somewhat autobiographical novels are mesmerizing; he is contemporary fiction’s alchemist of the ordinary. He manages, seemingly without effort, to make the minutia of one man’s life as involving and gravity-laden as another writer’s account of the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.” -- The New York Times Holiday Gift Guide in recommending all three currently available hardcover volumes of My Struggle

"And then there is the beauty of Book Three itself. In the earlier volumes, Knausgaard’s insistence that we witness all the steps the narrator takes to cook his dinner, from turning on the oven to forking the finished product onto his plate, sometimes seemed an irritating exercise in literary estrangement. But the young Karl Ove’s attention to his dinner is in perfect keeping with the child’s perspective, in which details of such daily events are a real source of interest and the focus of attention. It’s as though we were finally let in on the secret referent of Knausgaard’s style." — Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books

"No writer has emerged on the world stage to more acclaim in at least a decade ...  readers of every stripe, it seems, are talking about Knausgaard." -- Evan Hughes, The New Yorker

"He has managed to transform self-abasement into a kind of grandeur, humiliation into a purified form of pride, and—above all—fiction into the most painful mode of truth-telling." -- The Daily Beast

"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

"[My Struggle is] a confessional outpouring that became a sensation. . . You imagine yourself as Karl Ove because it’s impossible to get inside anyone else’s head." -- Slate

"This segment of a genre-defying and unusual novel will leave readers hungry for the following installments, and serves as a fine entry point into the series." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Notable for his meticulous attention to the quotidian details of everyday life, Knausgaard’s pared-down style and plainspoken narrator manage to propel these long books, concerned less with sustaining plot than with the accumulation of tiny intensities and candid disclosures, which makes for strangely engaging, compulsively page-turning prose." -- Booklist Online (starred review)

"For Knausgaard, who seems increasingly Wordsworthian as he writes himself into his long memoir, childhood is the truth of life, the source and heat of everything; to have to travel away from it, as we all must do, is something akin to moving away from the sun. Volume Three of “My Struggle” returns the reader to childhood (specifically, to Knausgaard’s nineteen-seventies Norwegian childhood): it immerses us in those now-distant pungencies (cornflakes, being afraid of dad’s bad moods, running around freely all day with friends, the feel of a cool new bag or some new swimming trunks, the horrors and bliss of days at school) as if to say to the reader: “See this, feel this, remember every single second of it, so as to reclaim it as it disappears from your grasp.”" -- James Wood, The New Yorker

"I was thrilled by the way Knausgaard dared to explore the absolutely mundane, while also being unembarrassed about considering the utterly transcendent. While the books are often extremely funny, they are also an exemplary argument for the value of taking oneself, and one’s life, seriously, and I could not be happier that there are still three more volumes to go." -- Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker (Best Books of the Year)

"The narrative: Love, Anger, Guilt. Repeat. Predictably, as a parent myself, I found His Struggle absorbing, delicate, clever, cannily plotted." -- D.T. Max, The New Yorker (Best Books of the Year)

"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

"...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

"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

"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 

"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

"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)

"MY STRUGGLE is a revolutionary novel that is highly approachable, even thrilling to read. The book feels like a masterpiece––one of those genuinely surprising works that alters the tradition it inherited." — Bookforum

" Knausgaard's cycle...is poised to become a true global sensation
...there is an utterly unique genius to the books." — The Christian Science Monitor

"Boyhood, so little given to evaluation, assessment, or argumentation, is instead a study of immersion. It is a pure-state immersion: not immersion in something, not a study of something, but immersion per se. With a nod to Roland Barthes’s dream of a language returned to its simplest, Adamic roots, we might call this immersion degree zero, a similarly paradisiacal (or childlike) fantasy. It is the function of the novel as a genre stripped to its barest essential. Little in Boyhood is allowed to get in the way of that goal. Not the prose, which in Don Bartlett’s translation is as swift and unornamented and unmannered as possible, as if aiming for pure continuation and sequence, as if driven by an almost childlike desire to keep moving to the next thing. Not the narrative rhythm, in which the sheer mass of a few random childhood days exerts a gravitational pull that distends and stretches into a time almost equivalent to the time of reading itself...Glistening surfaces, constantly in the act of opening up—and always, as a result, transfixing." - Nicholas Dames, Public Books

“My Struggle
is a book so private it feels like a sanctuary. . . [Knausgaard is] the great chronicler of the modern condition." — Ian Brown, The Globe and Mail

“One of the most anticipated books of the year (or the decade).” — Financial Times (UK)

 "[Knausgaard is] one of the most remarkable authors who have emerged in recent years … he is in the process of becoming a global superstar."  The Economist (UK)

 "Via his visceral, immersive art, Knausgaard makes the heart visible as he conjures 'the intensity that only exists in childhood'." The Independent (UK)

"A compelling memoir of times we cannot know." — The London Evening Standard

 "an immediacy as astonishing as that of its two predecessors. . . . In Don Bartlett’s lively vernacular translation, My Struggle will, I am convinced, outlive the furore, welcoming or hostile, of its first appearance." — Paul Binding, The Spectator (UK)

“extreme artlessness creates a far more intense realism than we might have thought possible, a confessional novel that outdoes most confessions.” — Times Literary Supplement (UK)

 "...With each subsequent book of his that is translated into English, Mr. Knausgaard continues to solidify his reputation as one of the most vital writers working today."  The Observer

"It would be wrong to suggest that Karl Ove is just an Everyman-plus-shading, and that Knausgaard has simply lucked out. Historical factors may account for why My Struggle has become a “phenomenon” but they can neither explain nor dilute the novels’ richness. Yes, Knausgaard appeals to the modern appetite for warty portraiture and off-page bust-ups and has chronicled middle-class Norwegian life during the country’s “exceptionalist” phase. To a loud anglophone minority, he constitutes a thrillingly boring alternative to boringly diverting invention. But he also displays a tremendous and irreducible zeal for penetrating what Karl Ove, reeling after a date with Linda, calls “the inner core of human existence” – an effort that brings fame to some but not others, and in which he has no obvious superiors among the writers now available to an English-reading public."  The New Statesman

"MY STRUGGLE is a revolutionary novel that is highly approachable, even thrilling to read. The book feels like a masterpiece––one of those genuinely surprising works that alters the tradition it inherited. . . . What makes MY STRUGGLE so hypnotizing––a word more than one reviewer has used to describe it––is in part the pleasurable surprise of seeing habits of mind (your apathy at a dinner party, or envy of a friend's tracksuit, or momentary frustration with your partner) that normally go unrecorded put down in exhaustive detail. But it's also the interplay between those lengthy, hyperrealistic scenes of everyday experience and what are in effect meditative essays." — Meghan O'Rourke, Bookforum

"Though a boyhood so honestly rendered cannot claim the title of 'innocence,' it can be termed wondrous." — AskMen

"When Knaugaard writes about culture and art, his observations are transcendent; not only has he fully digested what he has seen and read, his references fit seamlessly. . . This is quintessential Knausgaard: a complexity of ideas generated out of true observation. . . relentless, fascinating and unflagging self-scrutiny." —The Rumpus
"While many are busy bemoaning the death of bookshops and literature, Knausgaard is a surprising, relieving phenomenon that is sweeping the world. . . [he is] undoubtedly the literary star of the moment."Outlook India

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, Knausgaard received the Brage Award in 2009 (for Book One), the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, and the P2 Listeners' Prize. It is also a finalist for The Believer Fiction Prize. My Struggle has been translated into more than fifiteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and three children. The author lives in Sweden.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago; Tra edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935744860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744863
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Volume three of Knaussgard's six volume work, three now released in English, three to go, bears many similarities to the first two volumes, but yet is somewhat different, probably because of the subject years.

In this book, Karl Ove recounts the seven early years he spent on a small island off the coast of Norway with his mother and father and his older brother Yngve. The jumbled time shifts in the other volumes are gone for the most part as the story recounts pretty straight forwardly the boy's growth from age six or so to thirteen.

The narrative consists of factual recountings of Karl Ove's interactions with his family and friends, and focuses most closely on his very problematic relationship with his stiff, forbidding and tortured father. There is very little moralizing of the subject matter, as a George Eliot or a Dickens might do. Instead Knaussgard sticks closely to the facts of the situation which he recounts in clear, precise and fluid fashion. The translation, by Don Bartlett, is sure and supple. The prose reads cleanly and flows easily. Probably because of the early years being dealt with, there is very little of the philosophizing and literary and other art criticism that gave additional depth to the first two books. This volume is more in the early 20th century realistic tradition.

What emerges is a portrait of a young boy paralyzed with fear of a very dominant and distant father. Moreover, Karl Ove is easy to dislike, as he does not shy away from giving us details of every embarrassing moment he ever experienced. We see a fearful, tearful child struggling to fit in with his peers, as he comes to terms with his own androgynous nature. He is obsessed with growing sexual feelings even as he discovers his own interest in fashion, shape and color.
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This book has a lot of great reviews, by which I mean reviews which give a real insight into the book and it's success, as well as reviews by people who have found this book outstanding. I would mainly go with the outstanding vote, this book is powerful and compelling. The only thing is, I am left wondering why this is.

The book is written though Karl Ove is actually remembering each and every event and detail of his early life, quite a feat if real. Whether it's real or made up, the writing includes some really prosaic details, which could be found boring by many, I imagine. The book's success is built on this style of writing, in that it works to somehow make us aware of the importance of these details, which build up a full-colour mental picture of Karl Ove's life with his bullying father, and the atmosphere of growing up in 70's suburban Norway. Personally, I enjoyed the style and imagery it evokes, and found it hard to put down - though in a way this is a strange thing to happen when you're reading about an ordinary boy's life, and this is the power of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
A review of Books 1-3 by Tailwinds Press. Check us out at www.tailwindspress.com

“A life is simple to understand,” Karl Ove Knausgaard declares in the second volume of My Struggle, “the elements that determine it are few.” Thousands of pages later, it seems that this reductionist aphorism was most likely a joke. The complete account of Knausgaard’s life so far—an excruciatingly detailed, introspective warts-and-all expose of everyday life in Norway and Sweden, as lived by a blue-eyed Gen-X male from Southern Norway—clocks in at over 3500 pages. The small conundrums of Knausgaard’s life pale beside the larger enigma of educated readers in Western industrialized countries: for some reason, a quasi-fictive memoir written by an occasional stay-at-home dad which devotes countless pages to the onerous social obligations presented by his kids’ birthday parties, the various hygiene failings of his vodka-sipping grandma’s house near Kristiansand, and the Byzantine intricacies of Stockholm’s apartment rental market, sells surprisingly well. It’s been reported that one out of every ten Norwegians have, if not read, at least purchased the book. Ever since Brooklyn-based Archipelago Press published the first English language version of Book One in 2012, American critics have awaited each new installment of Knausgaard’s maybe-life story with baited breath.

Is the cheap thrill of carrying a book called My Struggle on the subway really going to get you through a six-volume tome? Probably not, unless you love the idea of seeing how Scandinavians outside of Ikea catalogues really live.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed the first two books in Knausgaard's semi-fictional autobiography, I was really looking forward to the third. Sadly, I have to report that this was my least favorite out of the three that I've read so far, mostly owing to the uncompelling stories that are available at this point of life: early childhood. Knausgaard's earlier books, criticized by some for their painstaking observations of daily tedium, worked for me because of his descriptions of his adult life--struggles with his alcoholic father's life and death, difficulties with his wife and children and so forth. The third book, describing his daily activities as a young boy, without the interest of complex adult situations to sustain them, really is tedious.

The book has moments when it manages to break out of the boredom of swimming trips to the local lake, bicycling with pals, and reading comic books, but they're rare. The best moments are when the narrative turns back to his difficult relationship with his harsh father, but they're only sprinkled throughout in a disconnected fashion and are too sporadic to support sustained and lengthy reading. It took me a long time to finish this one, So long, in fact, that I thought I might put it permanently aside. in the end, I stuck with it. I'm not sure I can tell you exactly why, but I'm glad I did.

Despite being disappointed in Volume 3, I enjoyed the previous two enough to hold out hope for the next volume...and a return to more mature life experiences. And with this many pages behind me, I've started to feel as if I know Knausgaard. I want to see what happens to him next.
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