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La Calera

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  760 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Centrada en los problemas de la soledad, la incomunicación, la autodestrucción y el fracaso, este relato cruel de cinco años de enclaustramiento en un «presidio de trabajo voluntario» del protagonista, Konrad, que culminan con el asesinato de su esposa paralítica, se teje alrededor de la angustia de una relación asfixiante en un entorno amenazador, la ritualización de las ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 2003 by Alianza Editorial (first published 1970)
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If you happen to love long, comprehensive physical descriptions -- the kind that many nineteenth century novelists (and Anne Rice) trafficked in -- you're out of luck with Thomas Bernhard, who at most restricts himself to a few general details about a person, place, or object and allows the situation or characterization to evoke physical appearances (often grotesquely) in the reader's mind. In other words, Bernhard crafts his worlds expressionistically.

Of the eponymous lime works building, the o
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just what was needed: early October reimmersion in the expansively claustrophobic representation of intellectual and interpersonal ruthlessness expressed by an obsessive with an advanced sense of the tragicomic. I "enjoyed" this one, although Bernhard's technique isn't yet refined here. It's longer and more labyrinthine than most later novels -- other than his last novel/masterpiece Extinction. Not as "funny" as his later stuff, although there are many dark silent laughs that have nothing to do ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JSou by: David
Shelves: fiction, favo-u-rites
This book was crazy-good. I almost wish I could go hide out in some dark and dreary place (not as dreary as the lime works--nooooo thank you) for a day and re-read this in one straight shot. While reading this, I would immeadiately be so immersed in the story that even the smallest distraction would annoy me to no end. God forbid anyone tried to talk to me while I had this book in my hands; they certainly got the ol' stink-eye. This was basically a 241-page narrative--no chapters, no paragraphs. ...more
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the fictions of Thomas Bernhard, nature looms as an unknowable and menacing presence that permeates the entirety of the pathetic struggle through time that an alternately pitiable and contemptible humanity has ironically labelled existence. Faced with this implacable entirety from the dimmest flickering of consciousness, mankind has created a multitude of structures and systems—society, culture, religion, language—mated with abstract concepts—love, hate, happiness, hope—in an effort to convin ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
It seems necessary when writing about Thomas Bernhard to use certain words or phrases to describe his work. I don’t think I have ever read an article or review that didn’t, for example, mention insanity, or ranting or run-on sentences or hate or tedium. If you wanted to you could play a Thomas Bernhard Review drinking game: suicide [take a sip], repetition [take a sip] and so on. The funny thing is that a positive review, and most of these reviews are positive, is meant to inspire people to read ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, austria, 2017
…not only was it a terrible, a horrifying world, but it was also a ridiculous world, but unfortunately each one of us had to resign himself to existing in a world that was not only terrible and horrifying, but also ridiculous, each and every one of us had to come to terms with this fact; how many hundreds of thousands, how many millions of people had already come to terms with it, even in his own unquestionably terrible, horrifying, and ridiculous country, our own country, the most ridiculous an ...more
Justin Evans
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Prime Bernhard here, a novel so horrific that on opening its pages I heard a faint whisper of black metal beckoning me hither. The glorious centerpiece is the narrator's attempt to produce a theory of hearing (note: he has no idea what he's talking about) by forcing his wife to undergo the 'Urbanchich Method,' which doesn't exist, but consists nonetheless in repeating words, syllables and sentences at the poor woman and then asking her how she feels about them.

That is, of course, just what the
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: míos, mainstream, drama
Como todo Bernhard, en cuanto empiezas a leer te das cuenta que se parece mucho a ir estirando del hilo de un tapiz, en que estiras y estiras del hilo del tapiz y cada vez vas sabiendo más cosas del tapiz. Pero también es como recorrer una escalera de caracol, donde paradójicamente vuelves a acabar al principio de la escalera de caracol. Y según vas deshilando el tapiz y vas recorriendo la escalera de caracol, sabes que el narrador está contando, a través de los testimonios de Wieser y Fro, ambo ...more
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid four, in my humble estimation. Certainly the most grinding and saddening example of Bernhard's method, maybe because it concerns itself with domestic space (the end of a long and torturous marriage) and because it eschews pretty much all of the lightening mechanisms you might find in his other novels. There's none of the musical flights of fancy one finds in the Loser, none of the beautiful pastoral evocation of the Aurach gorge you get in Correction, and certainly none of the (Sometimes ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, austrian
The Bernhard addiction is nearly impossible, perhaps impossible, to break. When I read "Gathering Evidence," I thought it would be my last Bernhard book, and I said why. But the reasons drain away, because his obsessive-compulsive, repetitive, unending and interminable, grammatically stringy rants just will not dissolve, just won't fade from memory: they are like adhesions, gluey things, echoing obscenities, the memory of intransigent hate or unhappiness.

This book isn't any better or worse than
Simon Robs
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was "prepared" to read this TB book, my 8th now read out of sequence which poses no impediment to understanding - his books, so far, remain quite similar, they ALWAYS feature an unhinged CENTRAL figure who is paranoid and/or reclusive, misogynistic & misanthropic, has a sister whom he distrusts, parents/family he hates/distrusts, WOODCUTTERS, usually a house/domain that figures heavy, sickness/illness, suicide and/or obsessive thoughts thereof, and so on. "The Lime Works" IS that place in ...more
Nate D
Nov 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: terminal recluses
Recommended to Nate D by: Troy S / Patrick M, sort of he explained to Weiser: precisely because I can see clearly that i can begin to write at any moment, that everything is arranged and in perfect order for starting to write, everything is pointing towards this moment of readiness to write, the very awareness that everything is pushing me in that direction makes it impossible for me to start writing. Every time it occurs to him that the very sight of his desk with everything on it prepared and ready, so that he can begin to write his book, i
Simon Hollway
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Reading Berhard is like exfoliating your face with sandpaper, dabbing on a sea-salt based, astringent toner and polishing off with an antimony chloride moisturiser. He stares into the abyss and drags you down there with him. Literally painful to read yet magnificent....Thomas wouldn't be much fun to play Monopoly with. He's more your chess on a cliff by the sea kind of guy.
This one makes Correction seem like Babes in the Wood. Those who find certain types of brutalist 1960s Soviet architecture m
One of Bernhard's finest -- again, a complete assault, both in terms of its style and its sheer distaste for its subject, in this case, a scientific type who goes into refuge in the Austrian countryside with his quadriplegic wife, his obsession with his own self-proclaimed genius, his hatred for his wife, his hatred for women in general, etc etc etc. This isn't to say that the world beyond this jackass is any better -- if you've read any Bernhard, you know his opinion of his homeland and his cou ...more
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
dark. claustrophobic. sickening. tedious. mad. brilliant. hilarious. disturbing. inspiring.
Bernhardt's style isn't for everyone, what with the first person voice and lack of any obvious structure to the monologue, but if you can sink into his stream of consciousness long enough to get a sense of his narrative, his books are amazing. This is no exception, although I suspect that I'd enjoy his books even more if I spent a few years in Austria.
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Bernhard has to be one of the most insane contemporary novelist in our life time. What is it about Austria that produces madmen. A writer's writer which means every writer should dip their toes into the pool of Bernhard. And i guess this is as good as any place to start. You like paragraph breaks? Forget it!
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another punishing novel by Bernhard. Is it possible this one is darker than the rest? Or is it just that it's 240 pages, rather than the usually more manageable 120 to 130?

Dense, dark, obsessive, yet as always with Bernhard the descent into the darkness helps us appreciate the light all the more, and commit to live more fully within it.

This novel also viciously emphasizes the point that if you have something that's important for you to do... you better damn well start doing it right now, then ma
Emre Ergin
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
overstayed its welcome
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ending of this novel surprised me. On the other hand, the more Bernhard I read (and I've read all of his novels translated into English and several of his plays), the more nuances and complexities I see in his work. Yes, The Lime Works, as with most other Bernhard novels, is a single-paragraph, near rant. Yes, the narrator is self-deceiving, self-destructive, willful, angry, much put-upon, and (seemingly) unfairly punished (i.e., forced to live in an uncaring, unfeeling world). But. the prot ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Not to oversimplify but this may be the greatest book ever about procrastination. More later(jk)
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-german
Sheer genius. Bernhard at his most intricate, rancorous, sustained, reflective peak...
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favourites
This is a very strange and fascinating book. While reading it, I found myself analysing it on two different levels: the level of the text itself and what was written, and the level of the writing of the book, what the author himself must have been thinking/feeling/doing. Is the author manipulating us the way Konrad manipulates his wife? Added to that was even more nuance: the points of view of the narrator (N), Fro, Konrad as a genius scientist, Konrad as a husband, Konrad as a madman, the peopl ...more
"The most lamentable, ridiculous, pitiful stuff..."

...Or so Konrad, the focus of 'The Lime Works', is supposed to have said, in reference to the results one gets at the moment anyone attempts to place on paper any thought, no matter how portentous (or monstrous, according to Konrad, supposedly). This is as good an example as any of Konrad's worldview, at least as it is reported to the reader by the faceless narrator as he transcribes the gossip and rumor flying around the small town of Sinking a
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Bernhard novel I've read, after The Loser and Gargoyles. It's difficult to rate these books, and your rating will probably depend whether you're in the right mood for this sort of writing. But I enjoyed this one as much as, or more than the first two.

Bernhard can be fun to read, and yet because of the draining style he's not an author I'd likely read twice in a year. Bernhard's narrator will explore a topic of the seemingly most minute importance, turning it over and over again
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading-german
Breathtaking polyphonic chronicle depicting madness by one great literary artisan. Stating the obvious without claiming proficient reading skills (yet!), I'd say Bernhard makes most sense in German. Words in other languages and their precise length cannot accomplish the litany, putting words together does not keep up the pace, translating words amounts only to a second rate cover. One can recreate the mood, but not the entire music.
Güney Tombak
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anlamak için vakit isteyen, mümkünse tek seferde okunması gereken bir eser. Yazın konuya uydurulmuş. Paragrafların olmayışıyla fikirlerdeki karmaşıklık, okuyucunun konuyla daha iyi empati kurmasını sağlamış.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970er
Ein Text über den Sinn des Lebens und eine pathologische Schreibblockade - allen empfohlen, die gerade nichts zu Papier bringen oder mal kräftig lachen wollen.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant. Reminder to the unmarried: if you're considering getting married, read this book.
Mac Vogt
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Lime Works is a nightmarish piece of hypnosis, a cautionary tale whose impact roars into view only when the last line drops. In other words, a punishing experience, but worth it. Punish yourself with existential dread entwined with marital dread, tightened by a raveling obsessiveness not so much detailed as it is ruminative and meandering in a seamless, sustained style, one I will attempt to emulate for you here, and failing of course. One always fails at emulating, or simulating, the experi ...more
Christopher Robinson
I loved this book for many reasons, but I'll just focus on the two primaries.

One: the humor. I think it's easy to lose sight of the humor in The Lime Works because of the oppressive atmosphere and the negativity of the narrative, but it's there in spades. Konrad is UNBEARABLE, and that's where much of the humor arises from. In particular, the recollection of him bothering his professor in the late evening had me laughing out loud. Bernhard has Konrad go on for more than a page, rambling at his p
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Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Although internationally he's most acclaimed because of his novels, he was also a prolific playwright. His characters were oftenly working in a lifetime and never-ending major work while they deal with themes such as suicide, madness and obsession and, as B
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“But instead of thinking about my book and how to write it, as I go pacing the floor, I fall to counting my footsteps until I feel about to go mad.” 2 likes
“Las palabras echan a perder lo que se piensa, el papel ridiculiza lo que se piensa.” 2 likes
More quotes…