On Reading Knausgaard

Fredric Jameson at the LRB:

I will add, however, that whatever bother he has caused his family and his friends, he has also made trouble for his reviewers, who cannot deal with this the way they deal with an ordinary book (whether it is a famous masterpiece or a worthless paperback). Actually, the truly most frequently asked question is: do I have to read this, is it any good? A question to which there may or may not be a satisfactory answer, but which can at least be smothered by the information that people do seem to be reading it and that it has been translated into more than thirty languages around the world and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and become a literary sensation, on the order of Roberto Bolaño or Elena Ferrante (both also somewhat autobiographical, it should be added). So the more satisfactory response would be to take a poll (preferably worldwide) and find out what its readers think. I believe the result would be that they cannot tell you whether they think it is good or not either, but also that they all agree it exercises a certain fascination that keeps you reading. This fascination is what a proper reviewer would have to analyse. Otherwise, you are reduced to the status of the art teacher, moving from pupil to pupil and saying, this part is really good, there is something wrong with the anatomy of this figure, there’s something missing in the lower left part of the picture, that part has an interesting colour combination, etc. I’m afraid I will have to do that too, since I agreed to review this book.

more here.