Life is a relentless bombardment of experiences. Each day is the same yet different. I am writing this on an airport terminal, one like so many I’ve sat in before, but just now a sparrow flew past and landed on the luggage scanner, a reminder that the humdrum of modern flight is still a miracle. Life is amazing but you need to pay attention.
Karl Ove Knaussgaard takes the minutia of his life and zooms in more and more to reveal the miracles that lie within all those gray moments we all take for granted. He recalls the ambitions and delusions of adolescence so sharply that they force me to dust off my own memories, to look beyond the familiar packaging and remember how it really felt to be fifteen, horny, dreamy, arrogant, and afraid, vivid reminders that force me to also shake off my torpor of this moment and come a little more awake. He recreates the anxieties and chaos of parenting small children and the lurking fear of mortality our parents come to embody as we age.
Knaussgaard, whether filling pages with the experience of eating an apple, cramming on a rubber boot, changing a diaper, or losing a parent, delivers such particularity that it becomes universal. Last weekend, his NY Times Magazine cover story revealed simple truths about how Russians view themselves that demystified and humanized them in a way I’ve never experienced before.
The candor, intensity, banality, and epic scale of his books can be an ordeal and no one has ever taken me up on my Knaussgaard recommendations. But I love sharing space in my brain with his, seeing through his eyes, inhaling his second-hand smoke and familiar human fragility.
8 thoughts on “Authors: Karl Ove Knaussgaard”
I like sketchbook Skool. I am currently taking two Kourses. (Morgan has been invaluable to me). I worked through the Drawing A Day Kourse and that encouraged me to finish one kourse I started and to start another. I think I need to work through those before taking Illustration Nation or I would have joined that one also.
Okay, the long and the short of it is, WHEN are you going to return to your Shut Your Monkey Podcast? I’ve been looking forward to the next episode since spring 2016!
Thanks Danny for all your encouragement in helping me to get back, or to continue getting started, with my drawing and developing a daily drawing habit.
You have to be a subscriber to see the New York Times link.
What do you mean “no one has taken me up on my Knaussgaard recommendations? I do not remember any. I also want to tell you that I think your writing is reaching new heights, you really get things across in such a fine way. I almost want to copy your words in a book just so I can hear the song your sing with the words. I also had a little chuckle during your opening sentence about life being a relentless…. so true and SBS such a wonderful provider of experiences, insights, encouragement and learning. Keep posting.
I was able to read the article through the link on my iPad. Maybe if you try a different browser it might work.
I found Knaussgaard’s writing to be full of imagery but not flowery. It reminds me of the writing of Robert Macfarlane in his book The Old ways about his walking journeys. It had the same quiet observations that were full of other things that Knaussgaard writes in his article. Thank you for the recommendation.
I read My Struggle at the end of last year because of your and others’ recommendations, so thank you! I’m now a Knausgaard fan. Thanks, too, for pointing out the NY Times Magazine article. I would have missed it otherwise.
I just looked this man up and I cannot believe I have never heard of him. Thank you for writing about this man Danny; I have ordered 2 of his books.
How utterly timely. I finished listening to the audio book of Death in the Family only yesterday. I can’t remember how I stumbled across this author but I am hooked on his attention to tiny details and humanity and on being privy to his expanded thoughts and explorations of a concept before returning to his narrative.
No one I know in the U.K. has heard of him. I work in a library so I brought in the book from another library to put on display….. it is now out on loan… the word is spreading.
Thanks so much for this article. I devoured it and heard myself saying yes yes yes in agreement with your comments. I am looking forward to reading his other books but I feel the need for a respectful pause before diving into the next. So much to process and digest from the first.
This new series of yours is exciting! Love the drawing too.
Just a simple thank you.
Your insights inspire me more than I can articulate. I am encouraged to keep you walking along my creative journey. There are so many people I am grateful to have in my life, and discovering your posts have definitey enriched my journey. You don’t know me, but I certainly know you and am grateful for your sharing of your creative life.