what exactly is knausgaard’s struggle?

My-struggleJoshua Rothman at The New Yorker:

There’s a very concrete struggle at the center of the book: the struggle between Knausgaard and his father. “I was so frightened of him that even with the greatest effort of will I am unable to recreate the fear; the feelings I had for him I have never felt since, nor indeed anything close,” Knausgaard writes, in the just-translated third volume. “His footsteps on the stairs—was he coming to see me? … The wild glare in his eyes. The tightness around his mouth. The lips that parted involuntarily. And then his voice … . His fury struck like a wave, it washed through the rooms, lashed at me, lashed and lashed and lashed at me, and then it retreated.” Much in the first three volumes, at least nominally speaking, has been about the experience of being this father’s son. When he’s a kid, Karl Ove thinks constantly about how to avoid his father’s anger or how to retaliate against it, or forgive it; as an adult, he struggles to write about it.

But Knausgaard’s book is more abstract than that; it’s about more than the experience of a son. That’s because, in exploring that experience, Knausgaard has ended up exploring all experience. If being a writer is like being a swimmer, and life is like the ocean through which you swim, then Knausgaard’s book starts out being about the waves but ends up being about the stroke. His father’s anger is one of those waves, and Knausgaard, early on, learned to see the wave coming, to brace himself, to swim up its face and, hopefully, to dive beneath before it swept him up. (If not—if he was knocked backward and pulled under—he learned the skill of patience: “Everything passed.”) You find that Knausgaard approaches all events in the same way. He traces the same pattern of serial, wave-like growth and recession in every context: love, friendship, sex, music, writing, art, intellectual life, spirituality.

more here.