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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle: Book 4 (2015) by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Book Review
Dancing in the Dark:
 My Struggle: Book 4 (2015)
by Karl Ove Knausgaard

    Four books into the six volume My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgaard,  we have heard alot about Knausgaard and there are some things we know about him:

1.  His dad was an alcoholic and drank himself to death.
2.  His relationships with women are complicated!
3.  He despises the ordinary and yearns for greatness.
4.  He has some strange hang ups about sex.

  In Dancing in the Dark, Knausgaard hones in on a period that has been mentioned in the first three volumes: the year Knausgaard spent in the north of Norway as a teacher- he was 18, and apparently that is something you can do in Norway, graduate from high school and immediately get a job as a temporary teacher on a short term contract in one of many schools that are perpetually understaffed.

   The major plot line in Book 4 is Knausgaard and his attempts to lose his virginity despite being afflicted by premature ejaculation, a situation compounded by the fact that he never masturbated.  In the era of 5G internet connections and Pornhub it's hard to imagine a male Norwegian making it to 18 or 19 without a single experience of masturbation, but it wasn't incredibly unusual back in the day.  There are at least four excruciatingly described scenarios where Knausgaard fails to close the deal despite having a succession of willing would-be partners.

  An episode where he recalls the beginnings of his father's descent into mid-life alcoholism locates Book 4 within the father heavy narrative of the first three books, but his Dad doesn't dominate this volume the way he does in others.  Book four also gets into his beginnings as an (unpublished) writer, and by the end he is getting ready to enroll in a serious writing program.


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