Malcolm Forbes

Child in Time

Boyhood Island – My Struggle: 3


Harvill Secker 480pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Early in Boyhood Island, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s mother gets lost and rues her sense of direction while praising her young son: ‘My memory’s not as good as yours, you know.’ However, in the book’s opening pages, Knausgaard informs the reader that his memory of his first six years is ‘virtually non-existent’. Boyhood Island, the third instalment in Knausgaard’s critically acclaimed Min Kamp (‘My Struggle’) cycle, covers the first 13 years of his life. His caveat about the reliability of his recollecting seems superfluous – who can accurately recall their first six years? If anything, Knausgaard’s proviso is there to strengthen his claim that these books are not memoirs but novels (though ‘fictionalised autobiographies’ could be closer to the mark). The young Karl Ove is indeed equipped with a good memory, but what counts is the way Knausgaard the writer has rebuilt his formative years with abundant and compelling creative licence.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying… ,