But Knausgaard gives us too many facts—or rather, he gives them at the wrong speed. It feels absurd to say as much, but his writing, far from being too slow, is actually way too fast. Nothing, in all the profusion of detail, is lingered over; nothing is given time to settle or sink in. Everything feels hastened through—every scene or dialogue, every description, no matter how verbose—with no effort to explore its implications. I can’t think of another writer in which there is so little implication, so little attempt to draw us in by leaving our imaginations room to operate. One of Knausgaard’s incessant themes is meaninglessness: the meaninglessness of our existence in a modern, desacralized world; the meaninglessness of his existence as he humps his way through middle age. But it’s not surprising that there isn’t any meaning, if you can’t be bothered to look for it….
[Zadie] Smith sees Knausgaard’s attention to the world around him as a rebuke to today’s distractibility. But his work is all too typical of our technology-assisted culture. The novel strikes me as a giant selfie, a 3,600-page blogologue. Like mumblecore or reality television, it’s premised on the notion that all you need to do is point your camera at the world and shoot. Like all these genres and more, it tells us that breadth is preferable to depth, that art is best created in a spirit of hurried amateurism, that the only valid subject is the self.