‘If you haven’t read Bernhard, you will not know of the most radical advance in fiction since Joyce … My advice: dive in.’ – Lucy Ellmann (author of the 2019 Booker Prize-shortlisted Ducks, Newburyport).
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ONE OF THE GUARDIAN’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
‘If you haven’t read Bernhard, you will not know of the most radical advance in fiction since Joyce … My advice: dive in.’ Lucy Ellmann
‘I absolutely love Bernhard: he is one of the darkest and funniest writers … A must read for everybody.’ Karl Ove Knausgaard
Mid-century Austria. Three aspiring concert pianists – Wertheimer, Glenn Gould, and the narrator – have dedicated their lives to achieving the status of a virtuoso. But one day, two of them overhear Gould playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and his incomparable genius instantly destroys them both.
They are forced to abandon their musical ambitions: Wertheimer, over a tortured process of disintegration that sees him becoming obsessed with both writing and his own sister, with whom he has a quasi-incestuous relationship culminating in death; and the narrator, instantly, retreating into obscurity to write a book that he periodically destroys and restarts.
Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, Thomas Bernhard’s dazzling meditation on failure, genius, and fame is a radical new reading experience: musical, paralysing, raging, and inimitable.
I absolutely love Bernhard: he is one of the darkest and funniest writers ... A must read for everybody.
If you haven’t read Bernhard, you will not know of the most radical advance in fiction since Joyce... My advice: dive in.
The most significant literary achievement since World War II … The master.
When indefatigable obsession looms large as it does in Bernhard (and his revered precursor Kafka) the result for the reader is a strange exhilaration and the thrall at being admitted into the mind of a maddened, magical genius.
Bernhard induces the kind of intoxication whereby it becomes almost difficult to read anyone else ... A supremely funny writer.
I’d never heard a voice like this (and you do hear Bernhard as much as read him; he’s all about voice). I wanted more ... immensely readable once you lock into their angular rhythms. ... They seem furious at first, but these screeds against idiocy and hypocrisy gradually reveal themselves to be impelled not primarily by anger or misanthropy, but by doubt, fear, and a genuine regret that life should be as bleak and meaningless as this.
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