Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund – digested read

‘My ideal football match is one locked at 0-0 after 24 hours with more than half the players having died of exhaustion’

Dear Karl, I’ve landed now. As ever, my senses felt overloaded. Life and death is very close in Rio. Just off to the Copacabana beach for a swim. Can’t wait for the World Cup to begin.

Dear Fredrik, I’m sorry not to have replied sooner but I was asleep when your email arrived. I then had to get up and make breakfast for the children because Linda is away. It is enormously irritating to have to deal with the kids when I have so much of importance to write. But to business. I am smoking my third cigarette of the day and I find my thoughts are not entirely dissimilar to those I was having when I smoked the second, namely that I am quite happy to watch the World Cup on TV here in Sweden while you are in Rio. It also occurs to me that we might be able to turn the emails into a book so that we can get paid for doing what we were going to do anyway. By the way, I rather want Argentina to win. I have always admired their nihilism.

Dear Karl, writing a book about life and football sounds like a great idea. As you know I am a huge admirer of your My Struggle series. It’s interesting to hear you are supporting Argentina. I had imagined you might be a fan of Germany. Yesterday, I went to a transvestite bar before going to watch Brazil v Croatia with my friend Alonso in a favela. The passion for the beautiful game here is amazing.

Dear Fredrik, I slept through the second half of the opening game so managed to miss most of the excitement. But had I stayed awake, I guess I might have been as excited as you – though even if I wasn’t, it wouldn’t stop me writing about it. After all, what is a writer who doesn’t write? I am now going to do some shopping, have a shit and then take the kids out. I now quite like the look of Uruguay. I also quite admire England, though I suspect I may be alone in that.

Dear Karl, it sounds as if you are very busy with your smoking, shitting and childcare arrangements. I’m not surprised you’ve managed to sleep through most of the tournament, but I am happy to update you. I’m now firmly behind Belgium. I’ve also been thinking about football and philosophy. Is it not just perfect that one of Brazil’s best ever players was called Socrates?

Dear Fredrik, your letter catches me at a rare moment when I am fully awake and not having to deal with the boredom of childcare. What you say about football, philosophy and national identity struck a chord with me as I am often referred to as the Norwegian Kant. The prevailing mood of the kulturmann in Sweden borders on the fascistic. It still upsets me when journalists accuse me of misogyny because they conflate my novels with real life. Just because everything in my books happened to me and I use people’s real names doesn’t make them true. God, I wish Linda was around so I could watch more football.

Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund (Harvill Secker, £18.99)
Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund (Harvill Secker, £18.99) Photograph: PR company handout

Dear Karl, the mood in Brazil is very sombre after they were dismantled 7-1 by Germany. It is as though the country has entered a period of national mourning. By the way, I have to take issue with you when you say Argentina totally outclassed Belgium in the quarter-finals. How can 1-0 be a thrashing?

Dear Fredrik, you get to the heart of why I am a bestselling writer who has been translated into many languages and you are not. My friend, you have not yet learned the art of making money out of contrarianism. Goals ruin football! My ideal game is one where two sides are still locked at 0-0 after 24 hours with more than half the players on both sides having died of exhaustion. By such a measure, a 1-0 win is totally outclassing the other team. Took the kids to the beach but it was full of nudists so we had to go straight back home.

Dear Karl, I watched the final with my friend Alonso in another favela. Germany were the better side but you must be disappointed Argentina lost. Won’t keep you, as I expect you have cigarettes to smoke.

Dear Fredrik, I slept through the final only to wake up and find I had sleep-typed another book. Not too sorry about the result as I remembered the pope is Argentinian and I wouldn’t have liked to entertain the possibility that religion had influenced the outcome. See you at the book launch.

Digested read, digested: Futility 0–1 Nihilism.

Contributor

John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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