My Saga, Part 2: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Passage Through America

Karl Ove Knausgaard, writing for The New York Times Magazine:

On the other side of Duluth, the road continued through the wooded Minnesota landscape, the blazing sunlight filtering through the treetops creating ceaseless, shadowy patterns on the snow-covered asphalt. I had told Mark we would arrive around 5 p.m., but it soon became obvious that we would never get there on time. I tried texting him, but the message didn’t go through, probably because there was no money left on my phone account. Peter offered to call him, and I accepted gladly.

When he hung up, Peter said that Mark sounded like the archetypal American. I asked him what he meant. He shrugged, it was nothing specific, just the way he spoke.

I considered the strangeness of that: That everything Norwegian, all that was particular to the west coast of Norway and to the Hatløy family, had been completely obliterated in just two generations in the U.S. If it had been my grandfather Johannes who had emigrated instead of his younger brother Magnus, I could have been the one sitting there, up in North Dakota, an American waiting for my Norwegian relative who was roughly the same age as me and to my surprise had announced his arrival this very Sunday.

I told Peter. He laughed and said he had never met anyone less American than me.

Part 2, of an overall mind-bogglingly good piece, is not quite as romantic as Part 1 (he gets out of his head more and has to do some actual reporting), but it does the trick. I thought the ending needed a bit more ruminating, but I savored reading this, putting it off the way you save a good bottle of wine for an important night.