Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Winter is the second of the Seasons quartet, a personal encyclopedia about the world, written by a father to his unborn child.
It is essential for a writer to observe the world around them with an acute sensibility, and to observe it so keenly that they see the truth within the guise, the sharp edges, where all appears round. Knausgaard seems to do this better than most, but he does so with a common touch. His thoughts within this winter collection are not dressed in hyperbole prose, but instead they appeal to the simple soul. He manages to take the everyday objects and situations of our, or rather his, everyday life, and spins them on their head. But that isn't to say that his prose is simple, only that it shimmers from the page with an effortless ease.
The subjects covered range from the moon, to owls, coins, chairs, ears, toothbrushes, atoms, to name but a few. And these are all addressed to his unborn daughter, and later to his newborn daughter, which makes the whole collection even more affecting. We are reading the observations Knausgaard has deemed appropriate, and perhaps even essential, for his unborn daughter to read, learn and understand. Like his biographical 'My Struggle,' series, of which I must confess I'm yet to read, these thoughts are deeply personal, yet they communicate a deeper understanding and made me think that if we all looked a little closer, we'd find such wonderful observations in the everyday, and that deep down we are all very much alike.
He demonstrates how alike we all are most succinctly in a chapter called, 'Vanishing Point', in which he observes how, 'antlike little creatures, follow the same roads and paths, according to a rhythm that none of them is in charge of'. He is explaining how though we all have separate thoughts, there is a whole to us too, and that like a flock of birds, we often move in patterns, almost like the waving of a hand.
Even the deeply personal stories about his family are relatable, such as the guilt of regrettably and inadvertently belittling his children through punishment when boundaries are crossed, to the guilt of thinking his daughter a little absent-minded, then finding she has a hearing problem.
These observations and experiences are all part of the human condition and our everyday lives, and Knausgaard has a wonderful penchant for writing about the human condition in a way that feels approachable, rather like listening to the stories of an old friend who has keenly observed the world, until its rounded edges have become sharp. The collection itself is a very handsome book with wonderful artwork throughout by Lars Lerin.
All told, a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening collection that has left me wanting more. An ideal addition to anyone's winter reading.