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Hjemme Borte Personally Knausgard represents some kind of fantasy life a writer cultural icon who had the fortune to grow up generous welfare state where one can focus life on reading thinking writing And this is why I like to hear about his thoughts and how he spends his days I can't imagine being intrigued if this was authored by an average middle classed American male The bearded and smoking photographs that have been mass marketed also add to the allure Writing the Beautiful Game is like of a soap opera for males in written form Two successful men writing about football and using that as a starting point to wander into several interesting trains of thought concerning individualism vs collectivism literature vs visual and class to name a few The authors acknowledge that they're in some cultural middle class bubble which they most certainly are and what better thing to do than write a book about football and middle class musings Is there anything better than Murakami and running Yes Knausgaard and football This time he has a foil in effervescent Swede Fredrik Ekelund a perfect contrast to the ascetic Norwegian The book is a series of letters or emails likely between the two writers exchanged during the World Cup summer of 2014 Ekelund is by himself in Brazil Knausgaard is with his family in Sweden Both share their thoughts news stories and of course insights into matches as the tournament progresses First of all if was a real treat to read relatively serious football analysis from two thoughtful writers Perhaps it's obvious but I found it fun that their personalities were so stereotypically reflected in the style of football they supported the dour disciplined deeply analytical Knausgaard preferring defensive tactically astute win at all costs teams like Italy and Argentina; while the out going Ekelund opting for the flamboyant talents of Brazil Beyond personality reading their commentary got me thinking that the team one supports can also reflect one's stage of life When I was young I often preferred underdogs perhaps I could see a bit of myself in their uest; the older I get the I lean towards dynasties as I now appreciate how difficult it is to sustain greatness year after year I wonder if this line of thought could be carried over to stages of parenthood To a parent with young kids like Knausgaard life is all about hard work sacrifice self discipline and organization Perhaps viewing the world through this lens colours other aspects of one's life like the type of team one would like to see succeed A parent with older children like Ekelund has already put in the hard work and is therefore care free relaxed and perhaps after the years of routine and responsibility is now open to new stimulation which makes unpredictable entertaining teams a treat to enjoy If this theory holds true it will be interesting to see if Knausgaard's team preference evolves as his life changes Otherwise there's uite a bit of late night philosophizing from Knausgaard and late night carousing from Ekelund At times I felt the writing lacked editing was unsure if this was intentional to maintain the authenticity of the voices or a sign of the rushed nature of the project ie to capitalize on Knausgaard's recent celebrity Two world class writers reveal themselves to be the ultimate soccer fans in these collected lettersKarl Ove Knausgaard is sitting at home in Skåne with his wife four small children and dog He is watching soccer on TV and falls asleep in front of the set He likes 0 0 draws cigarettes coffee and ArgentinaFredrik Ekelund is away in Brazil where he plays soccer on the beach and watches matches with others Ekelund loves games that end up 4 3 and teams that play beautiful soccer He likes caipirinhas and Brazil Home and Away is an unusual soccer book in which the two authors use soccer and the World Cup in Brazil as the arena for reflections on life and death art and politics class and literature What does it mean to be at home in a globalized worldThis exchange of letters opens up new vistas and gives us stories from the lives of two creative writers We get under their skin and gain insight into their relationships with modern times and soccer’s place in their lives the significance the game has for people in general and the uestion Was this the best soccer championship ever Perhaps the only book you'll read this year in which the authors attempt to find a soccer euivalent to Virginia Woolf's prose I'm a fan of Knausgaard but have never spent time with soccer aka footballThe sports writing held my interest although I half skimmed some of it Wow these dudes can writeI'm glad I got to know FrederikIf you're a Karl Ove fan he has some amazing parts in here On par with My Struggle for sureI'm really glad I read this but would only recommend it to people who are already KOK fans If I were a football fan I'm uite sure this would have been a back of the net five stars As I'm not however it's still a pretty solid 4 Knausgaard as always is endlessly fascinating As a book about the beautiful game maybe 3 stars of interest to those that understand the game and its history but little relevance to others However if you've read the My Struggle series this is a fascinating and uick read of the man behind the scenes Almost an addendum of what those books did for him in letter form You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this book I'm not But both authors write excellently and they capture the atmosphere and excitement of the World Cup which even I have been sucked into occasionally Besides the book includes a lot that is unrelated to soccer Knausgaard is one of my favorite writers and a lot of what attracts me in his writing is evident here the emotional insight; the intellectual honesty; the close attention to detail I particularly enjoyed the passages where he criticizes the political ideology of the left in Sweden; frankly the discourse problems in the literary community there sound as bad as they are in the US For example he mentions attending a panel where he was compared to Anders Behring Breivik the white supremacist responsible for the 2011 Norwegian terrorist attacks This is presumably because he had the gall to talk about how he felt emasculated by pushing around a stroller; never mind that he didn't condone his own feelings; it was inappropriate enough to say he had them Or maybe it was because he's a white male who wrote a long book so he must necessarily be a monster of phallus driven ego Clearly this makes him euivalent to a mass murderer Humans it seems are compelled to paint with a broad brush; the only difference is who is holding the brush and who is getting painted Ekelund is an interesting writer in his own right He is worldly than Knausgaard a little open and optimistic He also seems to be charitable in his thinking For example even though he agrees with some of Knausgaard's points about the Swedish left he also attempts to understand the reasoning behind the left's beliefs His and Knausgaard's exchanges have an interesting give and take fueled by their separate obsessions self vs world home vs away I'm eager to read of Ekelund and this book satisfied my Knausgaard craving until Vol 6 of My Struggle Football is a simple game Twenty two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans always win Gary LinekerIt’s the 16th of June 2018 and another Football ⚽ World Cup is upon us that’s “soccer” for my American friends In fact the tournament started two days ago with the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia I have to confess that I’m not a great football fan and my knowledge of the game is limited I don’t even know all of the players’ names of “my” team Germany But every four years I crawl from under my rock and watch some gamesWhile I’m writing this another game the first one for today between France “Le Bleau” and Australia “The Socceroos” just started In fact I finished the book with the whistle for the kick off of this game and I hope I can finish my review before the game ends The last World Cup was held exactly four years ago between June 12 and July 13 in Brazil And that’s what the two authors wrote about The original title in Norwegian of this book is Hjemme Borte which could be translated as Home and Away and did as I see when I look at the English edition This of course is the first football metaphor but it’s also an apt description of the book and the situation of the authors The Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård stays at home with his family wife and four children in the little village called Glemmingebro in Southern Sweden one hour by car to Malmö while his friend the Swedish author Fredrik Ekelund travels to Rio de Janeiro zu experience the event first hand and on location The two of them exchange daily “letters” that’s what they call it but those are actually E Mails and tell one another about how they experienced the games and comment on teams and players But they also and that is the great strength of the book convey about their lives outside of the football event You don’t have to be an expert in football to appreciate the bookIt is clear from the outset that those “letters” will eventually become a book However the content was not planned I think in the same way that you cannot predict how the football games will end and who will become world champion that year You can not plan something like that One of them writes something and plays the ball to the other The other one picks up the ball completes the writing agrees contradicts expands comments or writes something entirely different Some threads end up nowhere but that didn’t bother me Digressions as a working principleJust now the first half of the game has ended and the score is still 00 The French are nominally the favorites in this game but what I’ve seen from the Australians with one eye I look at a small window on my screen and with the other on my text I like uite well Now I can spend 15 minutes takes how long the half time break is focusing entirely on my text hereBoth of them are brilliant narrators The 640 pages German edition went by like a breeze I didn’t read anything by Ekelund before but Knausgård mainly through his Min Kamp series seems almost like an old acuaintance Stylistically I liked Knausgård’s writing than the one of Ekelund On the other hand the themes of Ekelund seem interesting He speaks Portuguese perfectly and knows the country very well through numerous visits and has many friends there What he says about Brazil in general and about Rio de Janeiro in particular is fascinating This pulsating metropolis between Copacabana and favelas is almost tangible and it contrasts the rural life of Sweden that Knausgårs describes In fact it is a book of contrasts10 France A penalty kick which was given only after the video evidence was used I do not like this new regulation I think it takes something away from a game’s spontaneity and emotions Again it is technology people rely on I prefer mistakes rather than sterilityKnausgård writes about himself I'm a Protestant right down to my bones I am someone who denies things says “no” to things and even though I like to read about the bustling steaming extroverted and lively activities in which there is a wealth of humanity it is not a world in which I could live Ekelund has a completely different view I’m of a samba type I want the big wave that makes the whole body swing the Dionysian I prefer that to the uiet rocking of the Bossanova Conseuently Knausgård is a fan of Argentine and Italian football while Ekelund naturally prefers the jogo bonito the beautiful game of Brazil Between these two poles the whole book is rocking back and forthAustralia evens the score 11 Who would have thought This time it was a hand penalty So far no goal “out of the game” Now France has 30 minutes left to avert a little embarrassmentLike I said the digressions made the book for me At one point Ekelund speaks of little doors that open behind which sometimes uite different things come to light than originally thought and sometimes there are doors behind and on and on The themes touched upon are far too many to be listed here Of course literature is one of them They start talking about feminism in Sweden and political correctness then somehow switch perspective and end up with Bolaño’s 2666 and the murder of hundreds of women in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez They start with Stefan Zweig and his World of Yesterday which was written in Brazil shortly before Zweig’s suicide the suicide note is printed in the book and end up with current nationalism in Sweden and other European countries that was in 2014 and I wonder if and how Knausgård’s attitude has changed since then At one time Ekelund compares Knausgård’s first installment of Min Kamp with Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and wonders how Knausgård managed to write in such detail without drowning the storyFrance scores again 21 And another controversial decision A Wembley goal so to speak only this time the ball really was behind the line At least that’s what the “magic eye” says – another superfluous gadget in my eyes Now it’s only 9 minutes left for the Socceroos to turn this into a drawI originally planned to read this long book all through the current tournament four weeks but once I started I couldn’t stop And perhaps that’s good because now that most of the 2014 games came to live again through this book including of course the “Mineiraço” the Semifinal between Brazil and Germany which ended 17 I’m in the mood to actually watch some football games As it happens both authors are no fans of the German team and they never miss an opportunity to mention that Well a week from now it’s going to be Germany vs Sweden It’s the day after Midsommar and I think I know what Karl Ove Knausgård and Fredrik Ekelund are going to do that day Sorry guys ;This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 30 Unported License I was lucky enough to receive a proof from the guys at Vintage and I feel privileged to have done so I would have bought this book and gobbled it up anyway the good thing was I was able to do that sooner and can now write this review telling you why it gets 5 stars1 It's Knausgaard and for me this guy and his writing can't go wrong Why do I love his writing so much Because it's pure It's just about well life His life my life all our lives His writing makes me happy that I am living and able to think and feel2 Ekelund's letters are also very good I didn't know anything about this man prior to this but reading through his correspondence with Karl Ove I know about him about what he enjoys about how he views the world He's the type of guy I'd like to have a drink with3 FOOTBALL Love it Always have Always will It's in my blood and has been for generations When I found out Knausgaard one of my favourite writers was releasing a book about Football I thought I was dreaming It surprised me how much of the World Cup I'd actually forgotten so reading this was a total joy I felt like I was living the tournament again4 5 Formatstructure idea It's a very good book The idea is brilliant I think it worked better that Knausgaard didn't travel to Brazil The letters email I presume are normally a day apart so they take turns Sometimes the other is busy so we get 2 on the run But don't be put off non football fans this book is about much than football Like all of Knausgaard's work it's about living Both writers delve into their pasts talking about things that have troubled them in their childhoods and recently And they also talk about their kids About parenthood It's a really touching readBlessed to have read this Blessed to have discovered Knausgaard during my lifetime I recommend you all to read his works and I will certainly look out for of Ekelund Thanks again Vintage