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Instead of the book he’s meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this dark and grotesquely funny account of small woes writ large, of profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction. We learn of Rudolph’s sister, whose help he invites, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his ‘really marvelous’ house, which he hates; the suspicious illness he carefully nurses; his ten-year-long attempt to write the perfect opening sentence; and, finally, his escape to the island of Majorca, which turns out to be the site of someone else’s very real horror story.
A brilliant and haunting tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, Concrete is a perfect example of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as “one of the masters of contemporary European fiction” (George Steiner).
“Certain books—few—assert literary importance instantly, profoundly. This is one of those—a book of mysterious dark beauty.” —Los Angeles Times
“A masterpiece. . . . [Bernhard’s] world is so powerfully imagined that it can seem to surround you like little else in literature.” —The New Yorker
“Something of a tour-de-force.” —The Washington Post
“Where rage of this intensity is directed outward, we often find the sociopath, where inward, the suicide. Where it breaks out laterally, onto the page, we sometimes find a most unsettling artistic vision.” —Sven Birkerts, The New Republic