3 of 13
For when you dress completely wrong
Few writers have a keener memory of everyday humiliations than the Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard. In Boyhood Island—volume three of his magisterial novelized memoir My Struggle—he recalls a childhood swim-class fiasco, when he shows up with a ladies swim cap. "I can't wear a cap with flowers on it!" he tells his mother. "You'll have to go and change it." "Karl Ove, my love, the shops are closed. I can't," she says. Tears streaming down his cheeks, he goes to the class. The other boys do tease him; but it's an incident everybody but he quickly forgets. Reading of his misery at this minor mishap, we realize that our own wardrobe misfires and social gaffes don't matter nearly as much as we think they do.