The Pequod Review:
My Struggle: Book Two is the second of Karl Ove Knausgaard's six-volume magnum opus, this time focusing on his middle-aged years with his wife and three young children. The narrative is a bit scattered, with shifts between childhood and adulthood that are alternately brilliant and strained, but Knausgaard once again writes exceptional descriptive scenes:
Few things are harder to visualize than that a cold snowbound landscape, so marrow-chillingly quiet and lifeless, will, within mere months, be green and lush and warm, quivering with all manner of life, from birds warbling and flying through the trees to swarms of insects hanging in scattered clusters in the air. Nothing in the winter landscape presages the scent of sun-warmed heather and moss, trees bursting with sap and thawed lakes ready for spring and summer, nothing presages the feeling of freedom that can come over you when the only white that can be seen is the clouds gliding across the blue sky above the blue water of the rivers gently flowing down to the sea, the perfect, smooth, cool surface, broken now and then by rocks, rapids and bathing bodies. It is not there, it does not exist, everything is white and still, and if the silence is broken it is by a cold wind or a lone crow caw-cawing. But it is coming ... it is coming... One evening in March the snow turns to rain, and the piles of snow collapse. One morning in April there are buds on the trees, and there is a trace of green in the yellow grass. Daffodils appear, white and blue anemones too. Then the warm air stands like a pillar among the trees on the slopes. On sunny inclines buds have burst, here and there cherry trees are in blossom. If you are sixteen years old all of this makes an impression, all of this leaves its mark, for this is the first spring you know is spring, with all your sense you know this is spring, and it is the last, for all coming springs pale in comparison with your first. If, moreover, you are in love, well, then ... then it is merely a question of holding on. Holding on to all the happiness, all the beauty, all the future that resides in everything.
From my own childhood I remember only a handful of incidents, all of which I regarded as momentous, but which I now understand were a few events among many, which completely expunges their meaning, for how can I know that those particular episodes that lodged themselves in my mind were decisive, and not all the others of which I remember nothing?
Recommended if you enjoyed the first volume.