Favorite Reads of 2010: Correction by Thomas Bernhard

All my favorite reads of 2010 collected here.

Thomas Bernhard does a strange kind of realism. His books tend to be extremely intense character studies of 2 – 3 people, yet they are told entirely through the obsessive monologue of a single character, so everything about all of the characters studied in his books is flattened into a single narrative voice. (And, in fact, all of Bernhard’s books sound similar, so really everything is flattened even further into Bernhard’s prose style.) Even though his books range rather broadly over place and time, everything in them exists in a sort of perpetual present, kind of like if you went to see a one-man/woman play and the performer played all the different roles in the same manic depressive voice.

Correction is perhaps the most intense variant of this approach of Bernhard’s that I have yet read. I’m not quite sure just what it is, but all of the typical Bernhardian claustrophobia, misanthropy, obsessive compulsiveness, and just plain misery all feels so much more so in this particular book. You read the end of Correction with a sense of exhaustion, a sense of hardly being able to read another word despite having read some 300 pages (and despite, if you’re like me, having rifled through the last 50 or so).

The other distinctive thing about Correction would be that it deals with a signature Bernhard theme–negation–in a much more explicit and rigorous way than the other Bernhard books I’ve read. The book is all about a suicide who “corrected” his life’s writings into ever smaller chunks of text, until he finally did the ultimate correction by killing himself. The narrator of this novel is his friend, who is speaking from within his dead friend’s creepy, tiny parapet that is stuffed with his papers. As the novel progresses our narrator becomes more and more possessed by the voice of these insanity-instilling papers that are sitting all around him.

All my favorite reads of 2010 collected here.


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