Dancing in the Dark (My Struggle: Volume Four) by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Translated by Don Bartlett) - review by Toby Lichtig

Toby Lichtig

Teenage Dirtbag

Dancing in the Dark (My Struggle: Volume Four)

By

Harvill Secker 548pp £17.99 order from our bookshop
 

And so we come to volume four of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s epic, exhaustive, entrancing, artfully artless non-fiction novel (reviewers, poor souls, have long since run out of epithets to describe the My Struggle series). And for those who have somehow missed the fuss, here – briefly – is what it’s all about: between 2009 and 2011, in an effort to write himself dry, the Norwegian author produced 3,600 pages of autobiographical prose, forensically raking over his past, reordering and repackaging his memories, while refusing to differentiate between the banal (a favourite breakfast cereal) and the momentous (artistic transcendence, patricidal rage). The results have rightly garnered more attention than most writers can hope for in a lifetime and, thanks to the tireless efforts of Don Bartlett, Anglophone readers now only have two volumes left.

Dancing in the Dark mainly concerns Karl Ove’s chaotic late teenage years and, in particular, the ludicrous nine months he spent as an eighteen-year-old form teacher at a rural school in northern Norway. Untrained, untamed and significantly less mature than most of his pupils, Karl Ove is a whirlwind of instincts and emotions: insecure, arrogant, nihilistic, buoyant, principled, mendacious, and bursting with unfulfilled promise and undirected hormones. His

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