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By Bernhard, Thomas; McLintock, David

Rather than the e-book he is intended to jot down, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this darkish and grotesquely humorous account of small woes writ huge, of profound horrors targeted and rehearsed to the purpose of distraction. We examine of Rudolph's sister, whose support he invitations, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his 'really awesome' residence, which he hates; the suspicious affliction he conscientiously nurses; his ten-year-long Read more...

summary: rather than the booklet he is intended to write down, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this darkish and grotesquely humorous account of small woes writ huge, of profound horrors precise and rehearsed to the purpose of distraction. We research of Rudolph's sister, whose aid he invitations, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his 'really very good' apartment, which he hates; the suspicious disease he rigorously nurses; his ten-year-long try and write the proper beginning sentence; and, ultimately, his break out to the island of Majorca, which seems to be the location of somebody else's very actual horror tale. an excellent and haunting story of procrastination, failure, and melancholy, Concrete is an ideal instance of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as "one of the masters of latest ecu fiction" (George Steiner)

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Example text

She has my younger sister on her conscience, I often think, for she too went in constant fear of her elder sister, towards the end probably in deadly fear. Parents have a child, and in doing so they bring into the world a monster that kills everything it comes into contact with, it seems to me. At one time I’d written an essay on Haydn — Michael, not Josef — when she suddenly appeared and knocked the pen out of my hand. Since I hadn’t finished the essay, it was ruined. Now I’ve ruined your essay!

The result of my being so inconspicuous and retiring has been that in the course of time I have liquidated myself, as I might say — as I do say, since it’s the truth. Your tragedy, my little brother, is that you always stay in the background, she often says. Her tragedy, however, she once said, was that she must always be in the foreground, whether she wanted to or not, that she was always forced into the foreground wherever she was and whatever the situation. What she says is never stupid, because it’s always cleverer than what other people say, but much of what she says is wrong.

That was in October, not long before my sister came to stay, I told myself. And now I’m failing with Mendelssohn Bartholdy, I’m failing even when my sister is no longer here. I didn’t even finish the sketch On Schönberg. She annihilated it for me: first she destroyed it, then she finally annihilated it, by coming into the room at the very moment when I thought I was going to be able to complete it. There’s no defence against a person like my sister, who is at once so strong and so anti-intellectual; she comes and annihilates whatever has taken shape in one’s mind as a result of exerting, indeed of over-exerting one’s memory for months on end, whatever it is, even the most trifling sketch on the most trifling subject.

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