I’m making this list purely for my own sense of satisfaction, since I haven’t had this much time to read for a long time. In the last two months I’ve read:
Oriental Girls Desire Romance, Catherine Liu
Child of God, Cormac McCarthy
Woodcutters, Thomas Bernhard
Young Torless, Robert Musil
Memoirs of the Hawk, James Tate
Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka
Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard
Seize the Day, Saul Bellow
Cartesian Sonata (3 out of 4 novellas), William Gass
Now starting on The Loser, Thomas Bernhard. Part of a nice group of books given to me by my boyfriend for my birthday. I have to say I find Thomas Bernhard the most interesting fiction writer out of the ones listed (I’m counting Kierkegaard out as a non-fiction writer, though that can be debated, as he’s a great storyteller as well). Structurally unconventional in a very tight and controlled way, yet driven almost completely by emotion. Like the music Bernhard apparently was influenced by. The content is funny, sad, angry, bitter, self-aware, biting, with a wounded sentimental heart beneath it all.
I can’t say I was as consistently thrilled by his sentences the way I was with McCarthy’s Child of God, which has some stunning stuff. Certainly William Gass is stylistically incredible — some out-of-the-world descriptions in those novellas. But Bernhard has the heart. The raging, weeping heart that lashes out in torrents of acerbity. So his voice is the one that’s stuck with me; it’s the one I’ll keep searching out in the future.
If you haven’t had a taste of Thomas Bernhard, I highly recommend.