My Struggle

I can’t retrace my early childhood because the geographical evidence has disappeared. It’s a major highway interchange now.

We lived in plywood row-houses built for the war industries but later repurposed into married students housing for San Diego State College. My Dad had opted out of re-enlistment in the Army Air Corps just before the Korean Conflict broke out and was attending State College on the GI Bill. At night he wore a white jumpsuit and lubed other people’s cars down at the Standard Station. My Mom, like most women in the era, kept the house, made the meals, and watched over me.

Thus I start the story of my life: My Southern California version of My Struggle.

Despite the fact that It’s All Fiction, Karl Ove Knausgârd demonstrates a remarkable and, admittedly, fascinating remembering of all the nooks and crannies he struggled through to become the Karl Ove we all know and love .. or at least the Karl Ove he wants us to know and love. I’ve only read the first half of My Struggle and look forward to reading the remainder. It’s good: easy reading (in translation), relatable, and occasionally controversial, albeit in an everyday environment (not pedestrian but also not too exotic).

It epitomizes the hackneyed advice to Write What You Know. But I wonder if I were to continue writing page after page relating as many events of my life as I could remember or imaginatively reconstruct, would I create my own version of My Struggle that would be translated and read around the world? Or when I am gone will my daughter find a large file of tedious anecdotes on my old computer as she is purging the hard drive before shipping the hardware to the electronics recycling center?

Will this weblog and a lifetime record of books I have read (and books I hope to read) be melted down in a cauldron of electronic memories to be forgotten? In the life of the universe does it matter?


But here are a few titles that piqued my interest last month. As usual, the color Blue indicates I actually read that one myself.

05-01-21 – Japan Sinks — Sakyo Komatsu
05-02-21 – A Promised Land — Barack Obama
05-03-21 – American OZ — Michael Sean Comerford
05-04-21 – A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence — Jeff Hawkins
05-05-21 – Fresno Stories — William Saroyan
05-06-21 – Squeeze Me — Carl Hiaasen
05-07-21 – The Silver Swan — Benjamin Black
05-08-21 – A Girl Is a Body of Water — Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
05-09-21 – White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism — Robin Diangelo
05-10-21 – Interior Chinatown — Charles Yu
05-11-21 – Home — Marilynne Robinson
05-12-21 – Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being — Agustin Fuentes
05-13-21 – Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle — Peter Coyote
05-14-21 – Trafik — Ricki Ducornet
05-15-21 – The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in Our Society — Dr. Debra Soh
05-16-21 – Tiny Love — Larry Brown
05-17-21 – Every Day We Get More Illegal — Juan Felipe Herrera
05-18-21 – If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future — Jill Lepore
05-19-21 – On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light: Poems — Marge Piercy
05-20-21 – Monogamy — Sue Miller
05-21-21 – Paradise Regained — John Milton
05-22-21 – Hurricane Season — Fernanda Melchor
05-23-21 – Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics — Leonard Mlodinow
05-24-21 – A Man In Love: My Struggle Book 2 — Karl Ove Knausgârd
05-25-21 – The Memory Monster — Yishai Sarid
05-26-21 – Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears — László Földényi
05-27-21 – That Time of Year — Marie NDiaye
05-28-21 – Sisters — Daisy Johnson
05-29-21 – X + Y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender — Eugenia Cheng
05-30-21 – The Discomfort of Evening — Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
05-31-21 – History’s Greatest Lies: The Startling Truth Behind World Events Our History Books Got Wrong — William Weir

3 thoughts on “My Struggle

  1. In the photo of the I-8 / I-5 interchange, if you take the exit to I-5 on the right just after the flyover, you will be on the ramp that replaced my neighborhood, burying my early boyhood in pre-stressed concrete.

    Funny story: In High School I drove a 1951 Chevy which periodically locked up mid shift. One Sunday I was touring with a jeune fille when the recalcitrant three-on-the-column jammed right on an earlier version of that ramp. I had to leap from the car, raise the heavy car hood, jiggle that transmission linkage, and dive back into the car before causing an angry traffic jam. I was swift but also lucky (with the Chevy; the jeune fille is a different story).


    1. I recently read the Gulag Archipelago, the Transylvania Trilogy, the Rosy Crucifixion and the first three books of My Struggle. Of these quasi-autobiographical works I would say that the Knausgârd is pleasant, engaging remembrance of things past, but Proust it ain’t.


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