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Thomas Bernhard is my favourite author when I'm not reading William Faulkner. 


This is a novella in a book (hardback in my case) of three novellas called Three Novellas. This edition appears to be the only english translation of two of the first two novellas in the book : Amras and Playing Watten.  Amras was first published in 1964, in German, (Bernhard was Austrian), it is an early work by Bernhard and is relentlessly dark. It contains all of the touchstones of Bernhard's work - illness and madness, isolation, tragic friendships, and dark humour (I confess that I did not see the humour in this).


It's about two brothers who survive a family suicide pact and are then moved, by their maternal uncle, into a ruined tower that he owns in the Amras region of Austria to recover. The younger of the two has epilepsy and both struggle with madness whilst trying either to come fully back to life or finally die.


It is very short, some 60 pages my copy, and it is difficult. It's both stream-of-consciousness and existentialism and it does tax the reader, which I enjoy, but the prose is amazing. 


Highly recommended but only if you like struggling with your fiction and don't mind reading about dark subjects. The advantage of this particular story is that it's short so you won't struggle for long.

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