The In-Between Things

“I want to evoke all the things that are a part of our lives, but not of our stories — the washing up, the changing of diapers, the in-between-things — and make them glow. Though a five-page description of what’s in a closet is not exactly page-turner stuff, I thought of this project as a kind of experiment in realistic prose. How far is it possible to go into detail before the novel cracks and becomes unreadable? Oh, it’s a shameful venture, no one wants to be boring or banal, but that was what I set out to do. The first book is centered on death, and it’s like bathing in triviality, and then death. When death is near, everything is meaningful, everything glows, everything is intense. The second book has the same pattern, except that the center of the book is the negation of death, i.e. falling in love. So: bathing in a sea of triviality, then love. Around love, everything is meaningful, glowing, intense. This is the structure of life: large chunks of meaninglessness. Time just passes away, nothing really happens, and then death, or love, or birth.”
Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Bookforum Talks With Karl Ove Knausgaard” by Trevor Laurence Jockims, Bookforum 24 June 2013

Failing With Total Dedication

Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Bookforum Talks With Karl Ove Knausgaard” by Trevor Laurence Jockims, Bookforum 24 June 2013

Bookforum: Are there other projects you’re working on now you’d care to mention, ones growing out of, or away from, My Struggle? I guess I’m thinking of the claim made in Volume 2 that writing My Struggle felt like committing literary suicide.

Knausgaard: It was a literary suicide. There is nothing left; I can never again write something from the heart without repeating myself, but I wanted it that way: In Volume 6 I even wrote a couple of lines about future novels, stories I’d thought of, just to kill them off. The last sentence in that book is: “And I’m so happy that I’m no longer an author.” So what I work on now are things associated with literature. I have written a collection of essays, which are going to be published this fall, I have translated a book from Swedish, which will be out in late May, and I have written a screenplay for a film based on my first novel. I have also started a small publishing venture with some friends. This spring, we published three novels — by Judith Herman, Christian Kracht, and Maria Zennström — and in the fall we have six books on the list, among them Peter Handke and Katie Kitamura. Doing all this makes me long for some real writing, but I don’t have what it takes: a capability to fail for years. That is what writing is for me: failing with total dedication.