My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love takes the author from his childhood and very young adulthood, narrated in Book 1, through fatherhood, with a wonderfully resonant start juggling strollers and whiny kids and attending what looks like a standard, miserable birthday party, at least for the introvert dad and his introvert daughter. The pace of the action is as glacial as in Book 1, as the author reflects on minute uncomfortable moments and how they arise and move on — and yet we keep reading, or at least at did, because we do want to know what’s coming next or rather what came before, as the story unfolds mostly backwards, and keeps going for almost 600 pages.
As in the previous book, one of the delights of the story are the little asides about life in Sweden (where the author and his eponymous hero moved, rather suddenly, from Norway). Who knew that Swedish apartment dwellers have to reserve time slots in the building laundromat? How civilized and also a little, shall we say, rigid… And I kept thinking back of how the hero’s trials with fatherhood and the incredible boringness of life with small children, interspersed with great big laughs, matches the findings of All Joy and No Fun, reviewed recently on the blog, — but Knausgaard is able to render the dual aspects in a much more engaging manner.