My Struggle: Book 1 is billed as an autobiographical novel so I dutifully filed it under fiction, but with a narrator called Karl Ove with the same last name as the author and the same overall life arc it was very difficult to pretend to myself that I was not reading a memoir. In any case, the story unfolds very slowly. After all, the author, although living in Sweden, is Norwegian, a country where a TV show about people chopping wood and then burning it in a fireplace for eight hours can have a viewership share of 20% — so patient unfolding must be a national virtue.
And yet. In the patient unfolding, and amongst the puzzling detailed lists of groceries purchased decades ago (I suppose — hope — that is where the novel comes in, since I cannot imagine someone remembering having purchased salmon steaks and broccoli years ago!), there are perfectly pitched memories of sneaking out as a teenager to a New Year’s Eve party with an awkwardly purchased, illegal cache of beer (and the belt that gets dropped in the bag with it rather than enduring potentially negative parental comments) all the way to flying to his father’s funeral, a father who has not been the best of fathers, and being overcome by tears nevertheless. And that’s only before he finds his senile grandmother living in filth.
I shall be reading Book 2, skipping over the grocery lists.