The memoir as novel seems truly tapped out, overused by writers who lack the imagination to sit down and come up with a plot and characters.
It is a challenge then for the writer who chooses to work in this medium for one, he must have an interesting and possibly universal story to tell. For another, he must stylistically be able to tell a story that’s not told in the form of a more escapist completely fictional narrative with the confines of its structure.
The first volume of MY STRUGGLE by Karl Ove Knausgaard definitely satisfies the latter point. He doesn’t necessarily have a lot to say in the lead off to his multi-volume autobiographical work which has garnered a lot of good reviews and critical attention.
However regarding the overall meaning....
Proust is the most immediate influence that comes to mind but whereas Proust, despite his sloppiness, had a very clear framing mechanism for his remembrances , Knausgaard does not. Most of the book seems to be about the problematic relationship with his father up to and including his father’s death but I feel that something is missing here.
As much as I like the way Knausgaard writes, there is nothing ”solid” here , just description without feeling, without force, the intellectual who is too outside his own life. Still the writing is good enough I would read further volumes of MY STRUGGLE.