“Horror Demands Laughter” | This Is Not a Review of Thomas Bernhard’s Novel Frost

I. Thomas Bernhard’s first novel Frost is (unless I’m mistaken) his longest, and of the several I’ve now read, the most taxing on the reader—bitter, caustic, depressive, nihilistic. It’s also terribly funny, the story of a young doctor hell-bent on making a career for himself who heads to the remote village of Weng to spy on Strauch,… Continue reading “Horror Demands Laughter” | This Is Not a Review of Thomas Bernhard’s Novel Frost

Four by Thomas Bernhard (Books Acquired, 7.15.2014)

So the other week, Turner wrote, at my favorite local bookstore—a labyrinthine maze you wouldn’t believe, formed from wooden frames filled with dusty paper stacks, obstacles of boxed books, unexplored (the boxed books, not the shelves), littering the pathways (the boxed books)—just under 2 million books (all the books, shelved, and boxed), if a certain… Continue reading Four by Thomas Bernhard (Books Acquired, 7.15.2014)

Riff #2 on Thomas Bernhard’s Old Masters

I’ve been trying to think of a way to talk about Bernhard’s (or, really, the translator Ewald Osers’) style and affect relative to, say, American prose traditions. I turned to some scholarship on old Bernie, and most of the articles focused on how musical forms (the fugue, sonata, etc.) frame Bernhard’s sentences (and, in some… Continue reading Riff #2 on Thomas Bernhard’s Old Masters

“The air is the only true conscience, do you understand me?” (Thomas Bernhard)

We came out of the larch wood, making for the village and beyond into the deep forest. I was leading the way. The painter followed me, all the time I had the sense he’s about to lay into me, he’ll attack me from behind. I don’t know what prompted me to think that way, but… Continue reading “The air is the only true conscience, do you understand me?” (Thomas Bernhard)

“His sentences are oar strokes” (Thomas Bernhard)

His sentences are oar strokes that would propel him forward if it weren’t for the powerful current. Sometimes he pauses, falls silent and listens, as though to check whether his present situation might not have been replaced by its successor. “It’s impossible to direct anything.” Things still in the future and the distant past all… Continue reading “His sentences are oar strokes” (Thomas Bernhard)

“Lead us into temptation, and deliver us from no evil” (Thomas Bernhard)

“I used to take sleeping pills,” he said, “and slowly boosted the number of pills I took. In the end, they had absolutely no effect on me, and I could have gulped any number of them, and still not have got to sleep. I repeatedly took such high dosages, I should have died. But I… Continue reading “Lead us into temptation, and deliver us from no evil” (Thomas Bernhard)

“everything has crumbled…everything has dissolved…” (Thomas Bernhard)

Before he retired to his room, “not to sleep, but to howl to myself in the silence of horror,” he said: “How everything has crumbled, how everything has dissolved, how all the reference points have shifted, how all fixity has moved, how nothing exists anymore, how nothing exists, you see, how all the religions and… Continue reading “everything has crumbled…everything has dissolved…” (Thomas Bernhard)

“Many ideas turn into lifelong disfigurements” (Thomas Bernhard)

“Many ideas turn into lifelong disfigurements,” he said. The ideas often surprised one years later, but sooner or later they would always make the one who had had them look ridiculous. The ideas came from a place they never left. They would always remain there, in that place: it was the place of dreams. “The… Continue reading “Many ideas turn into lifelong disfigurements” (Thomas Bernhard)

“Childhood is still running along beside us like a little dog” (Thomas Bernhard)

“Childhood is still running along beside us like a little dog who used to be a merry companion, but who now requires our care and splints, and myriad medicines, to prevent him from promptly passing on.” It went along rivers, and down mountain gorges. If you gave it any assistance, the evening would construct the… Continue reading “Childhood is still running along beside us like a little dog” (Thomas Bernhard)

“—you see you were always lost” (Thomas Bernhard)

“You just arrive in a place,” said the painter,“ and then you leave it again, and yet everything, every single object you take in, is the sum of its prehistory. The older you become, the less you think about the connections you’ve already established. Table, cow, sky, stream, stone, tree, they’ve all been studied. Now… Continue reading “—you see you were always lost” (Thomas Bernhard)

“Bernhard is an architect of consciousness” — Ben Marcus on Thomas Bernhard

Bernhard is an architect of consciousness more than a narrative storyteller. His project is not to reference the known world, stuffing it with fully rounded characters who commence to discover their conflicts with one another, but to erect complex states of mind-usually self-loathing, obsessive ones-and then set about destroying them. Bernhard’s characters are thorough accomplices in their own destruction, and they… Continue reading “Bernhard is an architect of consciousness” — Ben Marcus on Thomas Bernhard

Reviews

  BOOK REVIEWS:  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z FILM REVIEWS TELEVISION REVIEWS MISCELLANY Book reviews Adrian, Chris A Better Angel — Chris Adrian Gob’s Grief — Chris Adrian The Children’s Hospital — Chris Adrian Alexander, Patrick Marcel… Continue reading Reviews

List with No Name #43

Frost, Thomas Bernhard The Lost Scrapbook, Evan Dara JL Borges Donald Barthelme Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon Gargoyles, Thomas Bernhard Maqroll novellas, Álvaro Mutis Lenz, Georg Büchner Memories of the Future, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky Moby-Dick, Herman Melville At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien    

(Not Quite Reviews of) Stuff I Read in September

So somehow in September, I neglected to write a single book review—not even a riff!—on this blog. Mea culpa, mea culpa. This oversight (not really an oversight) I mayhap blame on the nascent Fall semester. Or perhaps I should pin it on a certain fatigue after working my way through Pynchon’s mammoth beast Against the… Continue reading (Not Quite Reviews of) Stuff I Read in September