Where My Struggle was blunt and rangy and plagued by scandal Autumn is sweet and slender and very circumspect ... This is the opposite of escapist reading. Knausgaard plunges you into the material world, not just with his choice of subjects — apples, adders, tin cans, faces — but in the telling ... This becomes the central preoccupation of the book: to restore our sense of awe, to render the world again strange and full of magic, from loose teeth to rubber boots to hardened pieces of chewing gum. There are misfires but fewer than you’d expect. Simone Weil wrote that 'attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer' — and so it is here. Loose teeth, chewing gum, it all becomes noble, almost holy, under Knausgaard’s patient, admiring gaze. The world feels repainted ... It’s strange to see Knausgaard play it so safe. The book reeks of good taste and appropriate boundaries (save a few enthusiastic sentences about oral sex). He refuses to stray into the shadows. Whatever portraits we get of his family are Instagram-worthy. I longed for the fearlessness of My Struggle, its unwillingness to tame 'the ugly and unpleasant,' its oceanic sense of life’s dangers and unpredictability. But in Autumn, Knausgaard keeps us on the shore. The shells he gives us to admire are intricate, absorbing and beautiful; this book is full of wonders. But it isn’t, just yet, the whole story.
It’s a diet plan version of The Anatomy of Melancholy, a solitary book that is ultimately about the need for others ... So it continues, essay for essay, as Knausgaard summons up all the Proustian and philosophical ramifications of a simple word. Sometimes, he soundly hits the target. At other times, his ideas seem suspect ... Collectively, these ruminations disclose a larger vision, which is that we live in a bountiful world that nourishes life but is also indifferent to it, and where human beings — no less than lower forms of life — are ignorant of any environment but their own ... Knausgaard tries to write himself out of this Scandinavian funk. There’s the promise of another day, the imminent arrival of his new child — and there is also this book. 'One of the properties of language,' he writes near the end, 'is that it can name what isn’t here.' In these secular meditations, Knausgaard scratches away at the ordinary to reach the sublime — finding what’s in the picture, and what’s hidden.
The most surprising thing about Autumn, the latest book from Norwegian literary superstar Karl Ove Knausgaard, is how tender it is ...in contrast, is relatively slim, coming in at 224 pages and containing no particularly shocking revelations. It doesn’t even have a narrative or barely any characters ...book takes the form of a letter to Knausgaard’s unborn daughter ...is a series of lyrical sketches that are invested in making even cruder topics like piss as worthy of aesthetic examination as the sun ... The spirit of that love animates this gentle, thoughtful book: love both for Knausgaard’s unborn daughter and for finding elements of the transcendent in the mundane. It’s tender, intimate, and lovely.