Teenage Wildlife: The Great Gatsby, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Extinguishing The Void

“For who brooded over the meaninglessness of life anymore? Teenagers? They were the only ones who were preoccupied with existential issues, and as a result there was something puerile and immature about them, and hence it was doubly impossible for adults with their sense of propriety intact to deal with them. However, this is not so strange, for we never feel more strongly and passionately about life than in our teenage years, when we step into the world for the first time, as it were, and all our feelings are new feelings.

-Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Man In Love

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Enric Martinez. Ov Fire and the Void. 2010. Flickr.com. Web. 17 Jun. 2017.

There is a somewhat deranged sense of priority in adulthood, at least for those of us who don’t so strictly fit into its more common motivations. The twenties are easy enough, demanding that we party and work and experience and make friends, but as one moves into the true test of adulthood – the thirties – there is an overarching sense of what defines maturity. If one removes themselves from the struggle towards higher-paying jobs and fancy titles, husbands and wives, babies and SUVs, the questions left behind are those often dictated by that internal sense of nihilism.

Recently, I started reading A Man In Love, the second book by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard in the Min Kamp series. While I came to the book with preconceived notions, as one might when they begin reading a book that translates to My Struggle, Knausgaard’s opus is carried through six books and follows the lives of those close to him in longwinded, sometimes prosaic soliloquys fused with philosophy and daily life details. While there are writers who have explored the mundane, Knausgaard’s commitment to the subject is both understated and ultimately absorbing. It is the ever-existing awareness of an internal life, its doubtful moments, that makes it easy to empathize with.

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