‘Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game’

Cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Barney Ronay at Literary Review:

Sometimes, though, the balance is just right. The basis of Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game is a literary friendship entwined around football and given form in a prolific exchange of letters during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The title refers to both the geographical locations and the contrasting characters of the letter writers, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund.

Knausgaard is the Norwegian author of a hugely successful six-part series of autobiographical novels called My Struggle. Ekelund is a Swedish writer and academic. Knausgaard is the home party. He watches the World Cup from the family sofa in Norway, constantly exhausted by the drudgery of parenthood. Ekelund is the away one. He travels, he has experiences, he watches the World Cup from the streets of Rio itself. ‘I desire reality, intensity, life,’ he points out early on.

They’re both pictured on the dust jacket. One is handsome and lean, hair swept back, a look of destiny in his eyes. The other is chubby-faced, beaming gamely beneath a muddle of curls. Can you guess which is which? Wrong! Ekelund, the away man, is the baby-faced dork. Home boy Knausgaard has the steely glint. On the page, though, they’re both perfectly in character. And for a while, as the letters cross, the scene is set and the tournament begins, their interplay takes on the familiar cut and thrust of a football match.

more here.