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An incorrect review
on 26 November 2011
This review is going to do something that novel reviews aren't meant to do: that is, reflect on the substance of the ideas and thinking behind the book, rather than on the quality of the book as a novel.
Stylistically the book is perhaps a minor triumph, and if you can read close to stream-of-consciousness prose there is something hypnotic about the repetitions that reflect the looping thoughts of a human mind.
It is not necessary enjoyable to read this style, though that is a subjective judgement. However I found it hard to force myself through a style that - while accomplished - I didn't much like, because the substance of the book was somewhat repellant to me.
I think it is possible to write a book about art, success, failure and so on without wallowing in delusions of superiority. This all of the characters, and I suspect the author himself (the ironic distance is not well maintained, despite some self-mocking) completely fail to do. This is a work of relentless elitism by someone who understands rather too well the feeling of disgust for his own audience. I cannot see it as anything but the author's attempt to establish his own superiority.
This is not how one is meant to write a review, because I suppose it comes down to this: regardless of the merits of the novel, I do not like Thomas Bernhard.