In a weighty finale to his epic My Struggle series, Karl Ove Knausgaard turns to the recent years of his life in book six. In Part 1, Knausgaard copes with his own doubts and his uncle's anger over the contents of My Struggle: Book One. In Part 2, Knausgaard conducts a close reading of Nazism and the dark corners of the human soul, daring to connect Hitler with his own work. Finally, Part 3 rejoins Knausgaard's family years later, as he grapples with his wife's deepening depression.
While each book in the six-volume series has had its share of meta-textual elements, this final installment explodes any remaining barriers to address the publication of its own pages. Knausgaard maintains all the hypnotic clarity and propulsive insights that attracted past readers, but adds a new layer of literary and philosophical scholarship into literature's most defiled achievement: Mein Kampf. In doing so, he confronts key thematic questions that have stitched each book together: questions of reality versus fiction, what it means to write and where the divide exists between the individual and the collective. For all its dizzying fatalism and pulsing anxiety, the book's musings ultimately inspire with a spiritual perspective, arguing "the loss of identity in the mass [is] merely ostensible, for the number of stars or the number of grains of sand is not infinite, but finite, and only from a distance are they the same, seen up close each grain of sand is different, each star unique." By the end, the reader, like the writer, experiences an existential exhaustion that is as emptying as it is revelatory. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor