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!