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“Adrian’s writing remains hypnotic on every subject.”
—Tin House             
Dear Knausgaard
In a series of warm and often funny letters, Kim Adrian delivers a compelling feminist critique of the 6-volume autobiographical novel My Struggle, by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard. The letters begin as a witty and entertaining response to a seminal work and transform over time into a fierce and powerful interrogation of the darker social and cultural forces informing Knausgaard’s project. Through its careful examination of the curious operations of intimacy demanded by all great literature, Dear Knausgaard ultimately provides a heartfelt celebration of the act of reading itself.

Dear Knausgaard was published by Fiction Advocate in the US in August 2020 and will be released in the UK by Boiler House Press in May 2022.


Author photo by James D. Carr
Kim Adrian is the author of two books of lyric criticism: Dear Knausgaard (published as part of a series that aims to “reinvent literary criticism”) and Sock (“reflects on the brilliance present in the minutiae of our lives” —Shelf Awareness). Her 2018 memoir, The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet, uses the form of a glossary to tell the story of her mother's mental illness. She is the editor of The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms, an anthology of lyric essays that a review in The Millions praised as providing “a sense of hope about literature and its capacity for evolution and change.”
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Kim's essays and stories have appeared in Agni, Tin House, O Magazine, the Gettysburg Review, the Raritan Review, and many other places. Several shorter works have been listed as Notables in the Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, and Pushcart Prize anthologies. Two have been translated into Mandarin for Chinese Literary magazines. Her writing has been supported by the Edward Albee Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writing Seminars, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, PEN/New England, The Ragdale Foundation, and others. She has taught creative writing in the Nonfiction Program at Brown University, as well as at Boston and Suffolk Universities, and for many years at Grub Street in downtown Boston. She occasionally offers online workshops independently, through Zoom, and is the creator of Write On, a free, craft-based newsletter for writers.
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press +/-
Reading Nancy Drew
"I think this notion that we have to separate the work from the writer is artificial and in reality nobody does that. We all have incredibly personal responses to literature."
"The object of the sock interests me precisely because it’s so ordinary. So ostensibly boring. What’s to say about a sock? (I liked that challenge.)"
"For me, an essay is an investigation, a very organic thing. Every sentence you commit to it opens up the field of discovery a little more and you basically let it work to take you where it needs to go."
"Although I'm happy whenever someone finds something beautiful in my work, I'm not personally interested anymore in writing beautifully. I'm interested in illuminating my subject, whatever that might be. It gives me a lot more energy to work in this way."
"Being a people pleaser can be a very dangerous proposition when it comes to writing."
"What Happens When You Write Karl Ove Knausgaard a Letter?"
LitHub (originally published on New Books Network)
"The Face Behind the Mask"
The Colin McEnroe Show, WNPR Connecticut Public Radio
"You Can Keep Your Socks On"
The Colin McEnroe Show, WNPR Connecticut Public Radio
"Kim Adrian Recommends" 
Poets & Writers
other books
The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet
“Astonishing and inventive. . . . Whimsical, even darkly funny at times, brimming with compassion, terribly sad and deeply loving. Memoir readers should not miss this singular offering.”
Shelf Awareness
“An utterly engaging investigation . . . of human evolution, anatomy, physics, sexuality, fashion, painting, consumerism, manufacturing, and motherhood. . . . illuminating, erudite, deeply intelligent.”
Los Angeles Review of Books
The Shell Game
“Pushes the boundaries of prose and opens up a whole new world.”
New Pages
selected stories & essays
(further selections available here)
"My Thoughts on Pâté" in Agni
My Thoughts on Pâté

What is consciousness? Is it in your head or is it something your head encounters? Is it in the world itself, can you touch it? Or does it touch you? Our brains are matter, of course, like rocks, or stars, or like that stick of butter melting in the sun on my kitchen counter. Our brains are things. Soft and greyish. Bumpy. They say electrical impulses carry our thoughts and these impulses jump from synapse to synapse. Sometimes deep paths are worn over long trails of synapses, and these constitute habitual thought, like rote memories or those odd connections that haunt you on a regular basis. For example, say there’s a certain stop sign at a certain street corner with a certain sticker on it with the name of a certain band that, for no reason you can think of, reminds you each and every time of your mother’s garden.

I bought a wheel of brie the other day and started thinking about these things. Brie isn’t even pâté, but it is French, and I suppose that must have tripped the process. I actually love pâté, but I haven’t eaten it for many, many years. I have ideas about why this might be. I even know the answer. I mean, I bet I know what Freud would say, if I ever had the opportunity—just speaking hypothetically—to discuss it with him. He would say that pâté reminds me of the goose, and the goose reminds me of Alain, and Alain reminds me of what he did to me—which by some people’s definitions might be called rape, although on this point I, myself, have never been a hundred percent certain. But really, they’re much, much more than that, my thoughts on pâté. For instance, pâté makes me think about the benefits of cruelty. And also about the love of sons for their mothers, and of daughters for their fathers. And it makes me think about the loneliness that’s wedged, like cotton, like some kind of dense packing material, between us all.

continue reading online at Agni 

"Toast" in Michigan Quarterly Review
Distinguished Story, Best American Short Stories 2014

One of the strangest memories I own is of wandering around an old-fashioned carnival, complete with the smells of popcorn, cotton candy, and oily, meat-scented smoke; there were games of chance, amusement rides, and dozens of bicolor tents housing such spectacles as the Strong Man, the Fat Lady, and the Bearded Girl. I must have been ten or eleven years old at the time, and on one side of me was my sister, holding my right hand, on the other was Darin, holding my left. Darin was the little boy who belonged to the woman who was supposed to be babysitting us—my sister and me—but who really, more often than not, left all three of us in front of the TV while she took naps and ran errands. The unspoken understanding was that my sister and I were, in fact, in charge of Darin whenever his mother wasn’t around. Her name was Dot, and she and Darin and Darin’s skinny, disgruntled father shared a tiny house with lots of wood paneling inside. It was a dark little place, and there was a wooden table in the kitchen, and ruffled, flower-print curtains hanging from the windows, and an itchy green couch in the living room. That’s about all I remember, except for the toast. Dot had a real talent for making toast, which is a matter of timing—which is always a gift, no matter the context. There was always an extra-long loaf of Wonder Bread on top of the fridge, and inside the fridge, a tub of salty, canary-colored margarine. And with these two ingredients, Dot made the best toast I’ve ever eaten. I was so grateful for that toast, I loved it so much. Darin, the dark house, Dot and her brooding depressions—the toast was worth it. Perhaps the toast was the reason why my sister and I never ratted on Dot—never complained to our mother that we weren’t really getting babysat, but were actually doing quite a bit of babysitting ourselves.

continue reading online at Michigan Quarterly Review

"Ten Conversations about My Struggle" in The Gettysburg Review
Excerpted on LitHub | Notable Essay, Best American Essays 2020
Ten Conversations about My Struggle

Thursday, July 12th
At the little sushi restaurant near my husband’s new office, I fish a flat sliver of ice out of my water glass and rub it against the inside of my wrist. David asks how a person can get carpel tunnel from reading a book, and I take the final installment of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s novel My Struggle out of my backpack to show him, again, how thick it is.

"Mostly it happened at the beginning. When all the weight was in my right hand."

"Wow. Dedicated."

The waitress comes over to take our orders. David gets the eel bento box. I get the spicy tuna roll with flying fish roe.

"Actually, it goes pretty fast. His tone, diction, the whole energy of it—it’s very natural feeling. You’d like that aspect of things. You’d like his descriptions, I think."

"‘Like what?"

I pick up the brute (according to my kitchen scale it weighs three pounds) and start leafing, but—it’s weird—crammed as I know it is with incredible descriptions of the most ordinary, everyday activities—from making a cup of coffee, to holding an infant’s tiny bottom, to mowing a lawn—I can’t seem to find anything really terrific to read out loud.

continue reading longer excerpt online at LitHub | full essay available in v.32:no.1 of The Gettysburg Review

"The Matter of Translation: Wislawa Szymborska's 'Conversation with a Rock'" in The Gettysburg Review
The Matter of Translation: Wislawa Szymborska's "Conversation with a Rock"

1. Red and blue boxes
When I was a child, I had a beautiful book that fit perfectly in my hands. Its covers were squarish and addictively smooth, its binding a wide ribbon of coarse blue fabric, its pages thick and waxy. In simplified prose this book told child-length versions of various biblical tales. Our family was not religious, and by the time I was six or seven, I had already adopted my father's more or less aggressive atheism. Still this book fascinated me with its bisque-colored pages and tiny illustrations populated by chunky, impressionistic figures mournfully enacting terrible scenes. But mostly what drew me to the book were its tidy, hand-lettered blocks of prose, printed, for some reason, in an alternating, every-other-page pattern of blue and red ink.

Some children—my daughter, for instance, who, ever since looking at a book of religious paintings from the Louvre, has been obsessed with the story of Jesus—might have found endless fascination in the stories themselves or in the beautiful pictures: Mary, Joseph, and their sweet-faced donkey, plodding through an apricot-colored desert; Moses holding up two chalky-looking tablets, the same size and thickness as Necco wafers. But I dwelt on the words—I mean the actual slightly shaky, hand-drawn letters with their mysterious red and blue moods—which seemed to be another story, beyond the stories they told....

continue reading online at The Gettysburg Review


April 1, 2021
Arlington Author Salon
"Books about Books," with Michael Blanding and Alden Jones
Online event, register here.

June 10, 2021
Boston Lit Crawl - "The Art of (Writing About) Reading"
with Adam Colman, Alden Jones, and Kim McLarin
The Dial Restaurant (roofdeck) - 907 Main St, Cambridge
$15/person (includes cocktail). Register here.
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view past events +/-
Close Readings: Experiments in Bibliomemoir / 3.04.2021
AWP Panel with Brian Hurley, Adam Colman, Stacie Williams, Stephanie Reents, and Alden Jones
Reading with Alden Jones, via Brookline Booksmith / 9.3.2020

Salon with Ander Monson and Stephanie Reents, via Essay Daily / 8.31.2020
"Head to Toe" PageTurners Reading with Alison Kinney and Rafia Zakaria / 3.12.2019
University of New Hampshire Writers' Series / 11.29.2018
Counterpath Press / 11.4.2018
NonfictioNOW "Writing the Hermit Crab Essay" / 11.3.2018
Green Apple Books in conversation with Amy Wallen / 10.30.2018
Shakespeare & Co. in conversation with Martha Cooley / 10.18.2018
Brookline Booksmith in conversation with Alysia Abbott / 10.3.2018
“Microhistories: Writing Deeply About Narrow Subjects.” NonfictioNOW / 6.2.2017
"The Lyric Essay" The Muse and the Marketplace Writers' Conference / 4.29.2016
"Grounded Words: a body-centered workshop for survivors of sexual violence" part of The Art of Life After Workshop Series / 4.16-17.2016
Object Lessons Reading, McNally Jackson Bookstore, with Alison Kinney / 1.28.2016
Kim's work is represented by Seren Adams of United Agents.

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