Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Concrete” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,074 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Instead of the book he's meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, a dark and grotesquely funny story of small woes writ large and profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction.

"Certain books—few—assert literary importance instantly, profoundly. This new novel by the internationally
Paperback, 156 pages
Published June 15th 1986 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1982)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Concrete, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Concrete

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,808)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jul 31, 2013 s.penkevich rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Your bitter side
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Garima
For years I have lived in this state of self-condemnation, self-abnegation and self-mockery, in which ultimately I always have to take refuge in order to save myself.

I find it a bit ironic that I’ve been having such a difficult time beginning this review, a review for a book narrated by an aging man who has watched ten years flick by as he has attempted to write the first sentence for his own book. Thomas Bernhard’s Concrete is a darkly comical, spiraling plunge into the mind and soul of it’s na
Dec 02, 2013 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Garima
Template for Review Writing

For the benefit of all you busy people out there who are looking to stay active within the still vital and cool Goodreads community, but in an efficient way, I’ve developed a time-saving template for writing reviews. The simple fill-in-the-blank format should prove to be a boon for those who might otherwise stare at a blinking cursor wondering how to start, or agonize over sentence structure, or waste precious brain cells trying to organize countless and fleeting thoug
I’m going to say that I am an observer of myself, which is stupid, since I am my own observer anyway: I’ve actually been observing myself for years, if not for decades; my life now consists only of self-observation and self-contemplation, which naturally leads to self-condemnation, self-rejection and self-mockery, in which ultimately I always have to take refuge in order to save myself.
I knew it would happen. I knew that whatever little I missed on my first outing with Bernhard would no long
The World of Thomas Bernhard is one populated almost exclusively by obsessive losers. These are the kind of hair-pulling people who hunker down for years at a time in a single musty room in some rambling country manor bemoaning their fate or fretting about countless things, including but not limited to the stupidity or cruelty of others, the general horribleness of Austria, or accomplishing some esoteric goal. In other words, except for the anti-Austria sentiment, Bernhard was a man who spoke my ...more
Eddie Watkins
Some years ago a colleague of mine suggested I read Thomas Bernhard, and in the random impetuousness of my callow youth I read, no, devoured, a number of his novels without first devising a method of “attack”, for whenever I first encounter an author it has been my practice, since my early days in the gymnasium if not before, to proceed systematically so as to maximize my experience and avoid any need to read through authors again, since it is my belief that every artist’s (and I do consider nov ...more
Feb 12, 2011 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: heaven knows I'm miserable now
Recommended to Mariel by: David
Morrissey said about James Dean, "He was incredibly miserable and obviously doomed. People who feel this are quite special." I thought about this quote for some reason about Rudolph from Concrete. (I couldn't remember the word "rockabilly" and searched Morrissey fashions. "Something something billy. Banana fanna fo billy!" Didn't help. [My twin is more helpful than google.] This quote came up. That's honestly how it happened. I like to trace trains of thought. It's an exhausting and preventive h ...more
It is always a pleasant experience to be able to immediately recognize one's surroundings when you enter into a literary work by an author you are familiar with. In Concrete this was provided by the opening announcement of the narrator, Rudolf, that [a] he was suffering considerably from the effects of an illness, one for which he thankfully was in possession of the requisite pharmaceuticals required to ameliorate the condition; [b] a family member of a decidedly malicious bent who seemed to fun ...more
An Austrian musicologist has been trying to begin work on a book about a favorite composer for ten years, but he's blocked. He lives in a rather grand family house bequeathed to him by his parents. He's the most equivocating, self-contradictory man on earth. He hates his sister, despises the Viennese social life and business career she's made for herself, but at the same time he loves her and believes her correct in everything she says. He extends this vacillation to himself and his projects, th ...more
Carmo Santos
Dei-lhe 4* porque deixou-me, literalmente, agoniada no final. Talvez mereça 5*, há que reconhecer em T. Bernhard a genialidade da escrita; em cento e poucas páginas de narrativa tensa, sem interrupções, traçou todo o absurdo de uma vida aprisionada no medo, no pessimismo e na contradição. No início até que lhe encontrei alguma piada, mas aos poucos a ansiedade tomou conta de mim perante a dimensão do desequilíbrio da personagem do seu pessimismo e indecisão.
Um livro que nos envolve assim tem que
Initially, I rated this as “five stars,” but have since demoted it to four, because my knee-jerk reaction was that I should have loved it, and that I would have loved it. This seems to be a classic case of “the right book at the wrong time.” You see, I had just read (and loved) Woodcutters back in June, this thus being my second foray into the Bernhard canon. I think it was too soon to read this after reading Woodcutters, because it was too similar, even down to some of the phrasing, which frank ...more
M. Sarki

It is almost impossible to write a critical review of a book I read almost twenty years ago and now am attempting to read again after having been philosophically and physically altered so dramatically from the person I was way back then. In 1996 I was a first-year student of the infamous fiction-writing teacher Gordon Lish and it was he who had informed me of the great work of Thomas Bernhard. I did not keep a journal from that period so I am hard-pressed
Bernhard’s novels, taken together, form a kind of modern Iliad, only there are no competing military factions, there are only degrees of sanity and clarity, and what is lost is the intuitive balance and immediacy of old that had once led to the creation of inspired masterpieces, works which for Bernhard represent the Eden we’ve all been cast out of, and which we cannot return to save by approximation; that is exactly what his novels are: approximations to the dead and gone who still haunt us and ...more
Rudolf, the rav-ing luftmensch,
Wrote a very whiny prose.
And if you ever read it . . .

Okay okay, don't be dumb. This book deserves better. This book spoke to me. In fact, this book was me on many levels. How very sad. For me. Rudolf's ravings were feverishly musical and hilarious and, by the end, devastating. Rudolf is a luftmensch, to use a term from Bernhard's mother tongue. His pursuits are decidedly abstract. You get the feeling he's avoiding something. "Luftmensch" means an kind of artsy, hi
Oh, Bernhard, I love you so much. No one understands hateful bastards the way you understand hateful bastards. Self-important, narcissistic, overly-privileged, autodidact pricks mulling about and neurotically focusing on their illnesses and their annoyances and, oh, I'm not going to make it to middle age, and how I hate everyone; nothing but dwarfed intellectual nitwits, con-artists, and delusional thieves in our depraved world. Yes, I feel the same way. And when I read you, I often reflect and ...more
Justin Evans
Three books in and it's fairly clear that Bernhard doesn't write books so much as he cuts off sausages from a long sausage tube of anger, disgust, self-disgust, irony, sincerity, satire and self-righteousness. This was more enjoyable than The Loser and Gathering Evidence, in large part because the irony/sincerity levels were a bit more in keeping with, you know, basic human intelligence. There's less of the foolishness that you get in Gathering Evidence, and more humor than The Loser. E.g.,

May 18, 2014 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: procrastinators; complainers
Recommended to Jessica by: douglas
This droning, paragraphless trek through the sludge of a hate-filled, pathetic, sickly-and-depressive-Austrian-Mr.-Burns-with-intellectual-aspirations-who's-obsessed-with-his-sister-type narrator's mind should be a total downer, but instead it's weirdly elating. Somehow the distillation of all this odious, self-defeating, self-inflicted, and yes, disturbingly close-to-home misery has an invigorating comic effect that can make the reader feel positively perky. This isn't schadenfreude; it's somet ...more
A remarkably varied and intricate book, despite its being so short and claustophobic...

A mix of Kafka, Proust, Notes from the Underground, and something much more modern and existential... Quite surprising.... I will have to read more Bernhard before I can know what I've just read.
‘Hormigón’ (1982), del austriaco Thomas Bernhard, tiene como protagonista y narrador a Rudolf, que vive enfermo y aislado del exterior. Su obsesión, encontrar esa primera línea que dé pie a un ensayo sobre Mendelssohn. Pero Rudolf es incapaz de encontrar un comienzo, y por eso, incapaz de finalizar dicho ensayo, con el que ya lleva años de preparación. Y las continuas visitas y críticas de su hermana no ayudan, al contrario, le interrumpen sus pensamientos y su manera de trabajar. Ante tal agota ...more
Stephen Durrant
I can never get enough of Thomas Bernhard's obsessive, confused, desperate, lonely, semi-mad narrators! "Concrete" on one level is a study of writer's block. The narrator has been planning for ten years to start a work on the composer Mendelssohn, but he just can't get the first sentence written . . . for a whole variety of reasons. His frustration leads to a series of typical Berhardian rants, which include an attack on the incredible selfishness of dog-owners, the general stupidity of Austrian ...more
Interestingly enough, I thought of Elmore Leonard while reading this book. Because Leonard just died, the newspapers are awash with tributes and such. One New York Times piece contained a link to his Ten Rules for Writers. Here's #10:

"Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

"A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perh
Brad Young
Nov 06, 2007 Brad Young rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gaddis fans, anyone that loved the film Adaptation, those seeking the unique
Shelves: favorites
Bernhard is amazing, inspiring. His writing is, in a word: relentless. It's been a couple years, but I remember Concrete as a meditation on creation anxiety and the paralysis of extreme self-absorbtion. There is no escape for the protagonist. His obsessions have permanently distanced him from the world and made connecting with others impossible. He spends the whole novel failing to begin his work. I imagine this novel as Bernhard's escape from his own obsessions and an attempt at communion. His ...more
Adam Floridia
I only read the first paragraph of this and just didn't enjoy it; paradoxically, I finished the entire book and also didn't enjoy it.

Not a scathing "I Hated it" one-star, just an "I didn't like it" one star. First person monologue from a character who's vapid, hypocritical, delusional, depressed, narcissistic, solipsized, incompetent, lazy, a member of the idle rich; and somehow I just couldn't find it palatable.
Right now working on a book, and this is a very dangerous novel to have in front of you. About a writer writing his book and how it goes off... in different territory. A masterful writer and often considered to be a writer's writer. But whatever he's great. It's as simple as that.
This is the Bernhard complement to Geoff Dyer's "Out of Sheer Rage," Gaddis's "Agape, Agape," and also maybe Nicholson Baker's "U & I": books about trying and failing to write essays, novels, etc.
Mar 29, 2007 Bianca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: frustrated misanthrope
Feeling frustrated writing your book about Mendelsohn? Hate your family? Ever been confused and on the brink of a nervous breakdown? Than this book is for you. Beautifully written and interesting.
A hyper-neurotic and sprawling 200 page paragraph. Brilliant.
Here's the deal: Thomas Bernhard was a genius. It has taken me four short novels to come to that ineluctable conclusion. His novels are grandly literate, literately grand temper-tantrums. They're very loud and very breathless and very funny and very profound and very beautiful when they want to be. Concrete, like Woodcutters, like The Loser, like Wittgenstein's Nephew, is a single novel-length paragraph of sheer misanthropic delight. The narrator, Rudolph, is kind of a dick, but oh how entertain ...more
Jose Luis
Devastador, como casi todo Bernhard, pero deja la sensación que dejan las grandes novelas.

Fantástica idea leerlo justo después de Agape agape, de Gaddis. Frente a su estilo en apariencia desarticulado, en plan monólogo interior algo desquiciado, el del narrador de Bernhard es un discurso elaborado, "literario", pero uno entra en el juego y se deja sacudir por la contundencia del texto. A su manera ambos transitan por el mismo territorio. El de Gaddis surge de este, aunque no sólo de este. En cua
We only find out the name of this book’s narrator on the very last page. And the same with his sister who is a constant throughout even though she’s just left him after one of her extended stays. The names are unimportant and I’m a little puzzled that Bernhard even bothered with them. Our narrator is a Viennese musicologist called Rudolph. He’s forty-eight, in poor health—he has sarcoidosis—and has planned to begin writing a treatise on his favourite composer, Mendelssohn, in the early hours of ...more
Ben Loory
it's a lot like beckett but not as imaginative or abstract. the rants are fun but i want it to go somewhere. then it finally goes somewhere and it gets pretty good! but it never affected me emotionally.

still, though, very mysterious and suggestive. and a good book to make you feel better about procrastinating.

At least try, I kept on repeating to myself, at least try, at least try!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 93 94 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
When does the plot take place? 1 18 Aug 19, 2012 02:40PM  
  • The Tanners
  • War & War
  • The Guiltless
  • Vertigo
  • Malina
  • The Afternoon of a Writer
  • The Lord Chandos Letter: And Other Writings
  • The Quest for Christa T.
  • The Radetzky March  (Von Trotta Family #1)
  • Kassandra and the Wolf
  • Transit
Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.
More about Thomas Bernhard...
The Loser Wittgenstein's Nephew Woodcutters Correction Old Masters

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Whatever condition we are in, we must always do what we want to do, and if we want to go on a journey, then we must do so and not worry about our condition, even if it's the worst possible condition, because, if it is, we're finished anyway, whether we go on the journey or not, and it's better to die having made the journey we're been longing for than to be stifled by our longing.” 59 likes
“Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is write it down at the proper time, otherwise it's lost.” 33 likes
More quotes…