Running for Your Life: “My Struggle” by Karl Ove Knausgaard

You’re going to write a novel in six volumes about your life, 3,500 pages (in Norwegian) and call it “My Struggle.”

This is not a quick read, a palm-size novelette that flies out the door of your local indie bookstore. Or “Gone Girl” that clocks in at a breezy 432 pages. Even “Infinite Jest” is 1,079 pages. “Moby Dick?” 635 pages.

No, you’re going to write about your teenage flirtation with rock ’n’ roll, your remote father, the burying of your remote father, being a father, being in a tumultuous relationship with the mother of your children, your death-meditation being, your memory-excavator being, your bizarr-O hermit uncle and Heidegger fanatic whose only contact with people is during Christmas week when you’re a kid.

And it’s going to be a page-turner. A novel that according to Rachel Cusk, the real thing, if you ask me, is “perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our time.”

Just when you stop and think, nah, literary ambition is dead, along comes a novel like this. So far, in English translation by Don Bartlett, there are three volumes, with the fourth due in the US in June 2015.

I’m half-way through the second volume and it’s just as advertised. One of the great, great reads of my life; one that returns you to the source, sparks the mind to think that, yes, big, sprawling projects are not only possible, they are the wellspring of our reading and writing culture.

Next: Running for Your Life: The Next Marathon or Number 9!  


Running for Your Life: Simply Write It Down

You never know what will grow into something bigger.

For example: Overheard while . . .
Taking a break, sitting on the front stoop at home

“Let me call you back after I look at my phone.”

Running in the park, a makeup person in an open-air photo shoot

“My background is in pageants and porn.”

So many ideas, observations go fleeting by. Our brain is a marvelous treat of a thing, but we can ask too much of it. By keeping a record – by that I mean some kind of bound book with pages that you fill unmediated by phones or digital playthings (don’t tell me you can do anything more than tap rather than really write on any of these tablet thingees) – you will manage to hold on to ideas and observations that otherwise will be forgotten.

Besides there is truly something glorious about the feel of an ink pen, cursive writing-printing across an unlined page that is so calming, especially after a hard run as I’ve had today (Dec. 15), 35 minutes, just over 4 miles. Whatever cares I had before the run-write swept away by the neurochemicals that release, yes, in that aforementioned marvelous brain, now shooting waves of quiet pleasure to every pore, from toes to fingertips, and, yes, I still feel the swollen calf and stiff leg of my DVT (see previous post, Running for Your Life: Pascal Dupuis). But that is only as a footnote in a novel, the footnote that is part of the narrative but not the deepest part. Not even close.

Next: Running for Your Life: “My Stuggle” by Karl Ove Knausgaard                   

Running for Your Life: Pascal Dupuis

Today (Dec. 9) while running on the treadmill for five-plus miles, sidewinding rain pelting the brave nor’easters outside the windows, folks I can see with their turned-inside-out umbrellas and humbled in hunkered-down hoodies, I’m thinking about Pascal Dupuis.

On Nov. 19, the hockey world learned that Pascal Dupuis, a longtime winger with the Pittsburgh Penguins, known for his on-ice prowess with Sidney Crosby, for working the power play, the penalty kill, seen by many as the sparkplug that makes this team of offensive stars go, be one of the most dominating teams in the National Hockey League had been diagnosed with a potentially career-ending condition: a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in his lung. Pascal Dupuis, like me, is a sufferer from deep vein thrombosis.

Recently, Pascal has returned to the ice to skate. That means the blood thinners have been doing their job. It’s anybody’s guess when, or if, Pascal will be able to play this heavy contact sport again. After all, the way Pascal plays the game: never at half-speed, headlong into the corners, ditching the easy way out, he runs a risk of doing great harm to himself. He, like me, must keep his blood thin by taking pills in order to best safeguard against another killer blood clot forming, this time not in his lung, but perhaps in his heart or, God forbid, his brain.

Pascal Dupuis was in his middle thirties when the blood clots came; I was in my early twenties. Pascal, I feel a lot different from that young man who was sick in bed, so frustrated with the fact that this had happened to him. You returned to the ice, I went out on the road and ran. To date, I’ve entered eight marathons, and completed six of them. It took me only forty-five minutes to run those five-plus miles. I’ve completed one Boston Marathon, and next year, a couple of weeks after turning sixty, I will be running in my ninth marathon (No. 9, your number, Pascal!) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with the view of running faster than 3 hours 55 minutes, in order to qualify for my second Boston.

Keep your head up, Pascal. The way you’ve lived your life so far, the best things are bound to happen.

Next: Running for Your Life: Simply Write It Down

Running for Your Life: Not Fueling Well?

Feeling under the weather? Maybe you're not "fueling" well.

I've dug into my blog archives for a piece I wrote on proper nutrition, which is especially important to note during these days of stress posed by overindulgence and under-indulgence.

Try a New Meal. I’ve written about food here a lot, but recently I came upon something new to me: phytonutrients, natural chemicals found in a variety of plant foods. It turns out, according to a Sunday NY Times article, that they have been shown to help in the fight against the Boomer scourges: cancer, cardio-vascular disease and dementia.

Join me in building a New Meal, one that includes such foods as arugula, dandelion leaves, yellow corn, violet potatoes, wild blueberries . . .

Spurn mild and go for the wild. (Please note: This is written before the Reese-mad movie reviews for "Wild," the nonfiction book by Cheryl Strayed.) That seems to be the secret. Which, when you think of it, goes along with a new New Deal. As in, going off the grid. Getting away from politics and governance, where corruption is but a dark-hued storyline on stress in a land where the ultimate enemy is time, which if you allow yourself to believe in the New Meal can be caught off-guard and befriended.

Next: Running for Your Life: Just Write It Down

Running for Your Life: Eye on the Prize III

It shines for what seems a wink of the eye. So easy to miss it unless, yes, you keep your eye on the prize.

I am by no means an expert. But I know where my favorites are: On the grounds of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, down 24th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues; a pair on the wee hill at the south side of the Third Street entrance to Prospect Park, and deeper in the park, at the western porch of the Lullwater Bridge with great views of the Boathouse.

It's the late November-early December bloom of my favorite pine: the golden larch. In bright slanting sun the needles literally burn in a golden glow that is as close as I'll ever get to the riches of Fort Knox, which is okay, by my lights, because you can keep that easy money, or your Black Friday specials, the first strains of Christmas carols, the bell tolls of the churches. Stop under a golden larch and, yes, you might just say (or sing) to yourself, the best things in life are free.

Next: Running for Your Life: Simply Right It Down