Karl Ove Knausgaard

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Tonight I witnessed a blatant display of hero worship directed towards Norwegian literary sensation, Karl Ove Knausgaard. And I shamelessly admit that I was one of the disciples. Well, sort of. When I learned that he was giving a reading tonight at the English-language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, I jumped on the metro after work and headed over. The crowd was large.

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The gatekeepers at the door (below) told me it was standing room only. Seeing as how it was only 6:20 pm and Knausgard wouldn’t be appearing until 7, I chose to wait outside. I’m too restless to stand in a crowd for 40 minutes. I must say that the staff at Shakespeare and Company are very professional and courteous. It’s an old, atmospheric, cozy bookstore oozing with history … and books!  Everyone was reading, it was great to see.

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Chairs and an audio system had been set up outside.

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With 40 minutes to kill, I walked around the block and took some photographs. When I came back to the bookstore it was 7 pm. We waited and waited, and then at 7:10 pm I looked up and saw our literary hero standing at the window on the second floor. He was smoking and talking with someone. Knausgard is a chain-smoker and, evidently, not a punctual man. He seemed to be oblivious to the crowd below.

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Impatient now, I felt like standing under the window and shouting up “Hey! We’ve been waiting for you for hours … it’s time to come down now.”

And finally he did come down to begin reading from his newest, yet-to-be-published book. Here he is, blurry, in the background. The outdoor crowd stood motionless while listening to his voice over the speaker system.

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I felt like I had stumbled across a cult gathering or a group of followers devoted to a preacher, a prophet or spiritual leader. Or a Norse mythic hero.

As I walked back to the metro station, I thought to myself – Is it any wonder we need our heros today more than ever?

I recommend these articles that I really enjoyed. They’re called Passage through America

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