Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard talks about his autobiographical novel, “My Struggle,” as well as his unorthodox approach to writing.
An extended transcript of our conversation ran on Electric Lit. Here's an excerpt:
Steve Paulson: Was it painful to remember the difficulty with your father, not to mention all the embarrassing episodes from your adolescence?
Karl Ove Knausgaard : The embarrassing episodes were a pleasure to write. It was just fun.
SP: Were you nostalgic for that period of your life?
KOK: No, not at all. There is one bit in there, though, that’s about my sexual shortcomings, and I have never said that to anyone in my life. I still don’t talk about it to anyone, but I wrote it down. It’s in the book, and when I think about how much I’m giving away, that’s kind of hard. When I wrote it, I read it to a friend, and that was a terrible moment. He was the first person I was telling this to, but he just laughed. You know, he laughed and laughed, and that made it easier because it is funny. I think the recognition about sexuality when you are that age and the insecurity you have…. you don’t know, really. There’s no manual.
SP: You also talk about how not much happens in life. You write, “How did we manage to be so patient? Because nothing ever happened! It’s always the same, day in and day out.” You go on to say, “The waiting — that was life.” I remember feeling that way.
KOK: Yeah. There is a strange element of hope. You think something will happen and it could happen at any moment. I saw that when I wrote the first book in the series. When I am 16 and going to a party, I have to hide beer in the snow. It takes 100 pages just to get to the party. And we are rejected, so there is no party and we just go back home. That should be a crucial blow to your self-confidence, but then you get up again and try something new. And that’s just youth to go on and on, you know? There’s so much energy in life.