A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family - Karl Ove Knausgård, Don Bartlett Revelatory memoir is more the stuff of salacious serialisation in the Sunday newspapers than of breakthrough in literary approach. Anyone believing the hyperbole of the endorsements is due a disappointment, then. The description of growing up in urban Norway added nothing new to those I've read by Per Petterson or Roy Jacobsen, say, and from my perspective, not as good. It lacks the coherence to achieve the universal relevance that's claimed for it (unsurprising, given that it was apparently written at breakneck speed). And then there's that original title, which means 'Mein Kampf' in Norwegian... what is that about? Nonetheless, in the end, I enjoyed reading Knausgaard's autofiction.

While Knausgaard reveals more about those in his life than they might like, he is also unsparing of himself, which gives this book a different twist. And there are some beautiful descriptions buried among the howling cliches. For me, the final section, describing the aftermath of his father's death was the strongest and the novel accumulated power as we came to see Knausgaard the man (or, at least, the one he chose to present us with). Will I be reading the next in the series? I haven't yet decided.