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A Picnic in the Sunshine with Knausgaard and Proust— James Storbakken

Aug 17, 2022 | Non Fiction | 0 comments

The day Karl Ove Knausgaard was to speak in Hollywood, touring to promote the U.S. debut of the sixth and final novel of his 6-book series, an absolute masterpiece, My Struggle , I found myself in a bit of a self-concocted conundrum.

I was stuck between two possible routes for the afternoon. One, to attend the weekly meditation group which I had planned to go to over at the meditation temple in Hollywood before finding out, by way of a notice in a magazine which I had found in the street, about a once-in-a-lifetime event that was taking place in Hollywood that night; the second and much more appealing option was to go to the windfall event, which was to take place in the bookstore on Vermont, just up the street and around the corner from the meditation temple, the temple being located on Sunset Blvd. I ended up opting for meditation. The official English title of the final novel of Knausgaard’s series My Struggle, its grand finale, and the concluding episode of his superb work of postmodern autofiction, is The End. He has been and will remain my favorite living prose writer. He and I share a couple of things in common, and, seeing as we find ourselves here on the topic of prose writers, I feel like I can humbly list a few of them. We are both big fans of Proust . And we are both, of course, autofiction prose writers. And we both are sensitive, self-concerned, and self-admonishing to an astonishing degree, characteristics which we exhibit on an almost daily basis. And we are both literarily concerned mainly with the flow of the quotidian as a basis for the plot and scenery of a novel— things like this. There are more.

I opted for meditation for one reason. If the reader is familiar with He and I by Gabrielle Bossis, then the reader might have a better chance of understanding why. Because Knausgaard is, indeed, one of my idols. A living beacon of the kind of life I desire to create and design for myself, the kind of life I can create using only the tools that I’ve been given in this life. Thus, as a simple offering to my higher Self, what some terrestrial beings on this planet call God, I simply attended the weekly evening meditation instead. After all, Knausgaard could’ve been scheduled on any other day of the week besides my one weekly afternoon meditation at the temple. I saw it as a chance to show the universe and my higher Self what mattered most to me, when it came down to it, me being the conscious self. I have never really regretted this action of mine.

Though, quite a different matter altogether, I sometimes wonder what it would’ve been like to have seen him in person and heard him speak. This I do quite innocently and without pretext, as I watch his interviews which can be found on YouTube. The man and the writer seem likable to me. Talented and highly open to being identified with on almost every level, these qualities are what he presents to my subjective, readerly tastes.

I pause writing for a moment to check Skylight’s website, to refreshen my memory as to the exact date in September of 2018 that Karl Ove spoke at their bookstore. I go to Google and type Skylight and Knausgaard in the search bar. I press enter. I click on the first link. My eyes widen. After all these years, I hadn’t missed a thing. Not a single thing.

CANCELED: KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD discusses the sixth installment in his MY STRUGGLE series with MARK Z. DANIELEWSKI

I here dedicate this story to our intuition. We should always trust it. We are always in the right place at the right time, ʾIn shāʾ Allāh.


Also, read the translation of Tagore’s memoirs and letters published in The Antonym 

Memoirs & Letters: Tagore In Translation— Episode 1

James Storbakken

James Storbakken


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