Lee's Reviews > Gathering Evidence

Gathering Evidence by Thomas Bernhard
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Jun 15, 2008

it was amazing
Read in November, 2009

Released a long exhalation and said "Jesus" when I finished this. Not for the faint o' heart. It's sort of like that movie Precious except this is the Austrian, high-literary, grammar-school-under-Nazism/Allied-air-raids/tuberculosis sanatorium (after all, the author's initials are "T.B.") version of surviving a worst-case scenario/hell. The language isn't as exagerratedly composed re: repetitions and theme/variations on every page as in his fiction, but the same special Bernhardian unrelenting bleakness appears throughout. So bleak it's infectious -- definitely a bleaker outlook for me this last week. Essential for understanding the relation between his life and his fiction (attaining this understanding should interest exactly seven people who use this site). Amazing to see a favorably portrayed character (his grandfather, a not-so-ebullient writer). Re the rating: the first two sections about grammar school, his grandfather, and WWII merit at least six stars, whereas the post-WWII respiratory hospital half of the book felt more like four. Was gonna read Extinction next but I think -- considering the onset of my annual bout of seasonal affective disorder -- to do so would either annihilate or obliterate me . . . or both.
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04/05/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review, Lee! I've just finished reading Bernhard's 'Extinction' and I experienced more or less the same reaction (i.e. a long exhalation followed by an involuntary swear word or two). Going to read 'Gathering Evidence' next. Let's see how it goes. ..


message 2: by Geoff (new) - added it

Geoff Hey Lee, I haven't read Bernhard's fiction yet but I picked this up after browsing the first few pages. Would I be doing myself a disservice by reading this before some of his fiction? Or is it a good stand alone memoir?


message 3: by Lee (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lee Not sure if it'd be better after reading The Loser and Woodcutters and Extinction (his last and maybe his masterpiece) and Correction and Old Masters? Actually it'd probably be better to know his fiction a little -- the first two above are the easiest entries maybe, before Gathering Evidence, or maybe not -- I read it after reading a bunch of his stuff. But I do think it'd stand up without the fiction


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