While most of my friends are hungering to get their hands on the iPhone 6, I'm champing at the bit to secure an English translation of Karl Ove Knausgaard's volume 3, the latest book translated from the Norweigian in this author's six-volume epic, My Struggle.
If I were his publisher, I'd rename the title Hitler ruined for everyone My Hunger for Life because this memoir by the stay-at-home father of four describes every quotidian moment of life, from changing diapers filled with excrement to cooking a meal of fish and potatoes, as if it were a testament to his need to feel truly alive by recording every single moment of consciousness.
Talk about the quantified man. Knausgaard is the epitome of human consciousness , a man for whom every detail, every experience expands his awareness of himself. The irony is that in his struggle to come to grips with the conformity that Swedish society, where he now lives, demands of him and that he has resisted since he was a child, the only outlet for his creativity is to document the routines his life is bound by.
The Norwegian's art is in the feelings that surface as casually as the smoke from the cigarettes he goes outside to inhale even in the bitter cold of Stockholm. And also in the endless piling up of details, such as in the blow by blow account of his wife's first labor and delivery, which is the most honest description of childbirth I've ever read because it includes the gore and agony most of us want to forget.
Knausgaard doesn't forget anything. Memory is what keeps us alive, he implies, and it's only by recording our history can we hope to understand ourselves.