Frost, by Thomas Bernhard

The opening paragraph of this novel is one of the best I’ve read, and is so humorous and sets the tone so well that I had to read the book.

The narrator, a young medical intern, is given an unusual assignment to stay with, and observe his superior’s brother, a reclusive painter named Strauch, and try to determine his mental state and physical well being. Our narrator easily befriends the painter, and soon comes to realize that Strauch is seemingly afflicted by all kinds of things, most notably, madness?

The story is written as a sort of stream of consciousness of notes on and quotations of the painter, as well as some descriptions and actions of other characters in the small, snowy town and inn where the painter stays. The book is also written in the same extremely negative voice as The Loser, which is over the top enough to make you laugh and smile at how ridiculous it is.

This story is not as much a story as a series of meditations and observations by a disturbed mind, notated by a young, fresh mind that is slowly being dragged into the same insanity that he observes day after day in the painter.

This book was much more dense and difficult to follow than The Loser, and I enjoyed it less. But there were so many sharp and amazing bits scattered through out, that it’s hard not to recommend it, even though it did not seem very cohesive to me.

Many memorable sections, and I’m glad this author has a lot more books for me to read.


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