Autumn | Karl Ove Knausgaard

Yes, yes, the world stands shocked: the man who has pushed the definition of brutal honesty to new heights, charmed the pants off the international literary world, and consequently gotten sued by 18 members of his family — even he has a tender side.

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And Knausgaard shares this tenderness with us in much of the same tone as his infamous Min Kamp series — that is, with a knack for slipping into intriguing existential tangents, and without shying from bodily excretions and all the other embarrassing minutiae of life that make us human.

Autumn, the first of a four-part series, is written under the conceit of Knausgaard introducing to his unborn daughter the common items and concepts that will surround her when she arrives. We understand that, in reality, it is an opportunity for Knausgaard to reconsider the daily things and to make us, the fans worldwide that greedily gobble down his hypnotism, rethink them as well.

He describes these ubiquitous things (The Sun, Teeth, The Migration of Birds, Chimneys, Vomit, Thermos Flasks, Flaubert) philosophically and loosely, through the lens of his own memories. Each section is no longer than two or three pages, and if I were a more patient reader I would ingest them one a day, like a guided meditation app, or a morning vitamin.

(On rubber boots: "That the boot is absolute proof against weather can occasion great pleasure — just think of the feeling one gets when one goes walking across a muddy field and the foot sinks down into the mud without anything penetrating its protective cover, the mud oozes up around the boot but the foot remains dry — and  sovereign, somehow. For isn't the feeling of sovereignty the very cause of the joy one may feel walking through a marsh ... to be invulnerable, to be protected, to be a separate entity in the world?")

EssaysLin King