Before I had even finished Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, I had ordered a copy of his 2008 novel A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven, an act more to do with wanting to remain in his company once the first was read than curiosity about what a novel by the author of a six-volume autobiography was like. The good news is that A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven fascinates like My Struggle. There is no bad news.
The novel begins in 1551 when late at night by a stream in a forest an 11-year-old boy Antinous Bellori stumbles upon two angels eating fish. Though terrified, he studies them: “Their faces are white and skull-like, their eye sockets deep, cheekbones high, lips bloodless. They have long, fair hair, thin necks, slender wrists, claw-like fingers. And they’re shaking. One of them has hands that shake”