Book Reviews | Daily Bytes

Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser

For your Sunday reading pleasure, an entry too late for our What We Read On Our Summer Vacation article . . .

In the land of Mozart, three talented music students become life-long friends. One, Glenn Gould, becomes the most famous pianist of his time. Another, on realizing that his skills are not what he hoped for, gives away his piano and becomes a writer—in fact, the narrator of this book. The third never resolves any of his conflicts, and eventually kills himself. He is The Loser, and in this meditation on success, Austrian author Thomas Bernhard counterintuitively makes that failure the more compelling story. Some writers start with historical facts and apply a veneer of fiction; Bernhard forges deep fictional truths and paints them with a trompe l’oeil of actual names, dates, and places. Unlike the ‘stream of consciousness’ that dominated 20th century literature, he brilliantly captures the way we tell ourselves stories: backtracking, obsessively retracing events, dissecting, all while seeking the shape of it. Pessimistic and scathingly funny by turns, Thomas Bernhard’s writing is among the most powerful revelations of modern life and literature.

-by Geoff Wichert

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