Mid-century Austria. Three aspiring concert pianists - Wertheimer, Glenn Gould, and the narrator - have dedicated their lives to achieving the status of a virtuoso. But one day, two of them overhear Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations, and his incomparable genius instantly destroys them both.
They are forced to abandon their musical ambitions: Wertheimer, over a tortured process of disintegration that sees him becoming obsessed with both writing and his own sister, with whom he has a quasi-incestuous relationship culminating in death; and the narrator, instantly, retreating into obscurity to write a book that he periodically destroys and restarts.
Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, Thomas Bernhard's dazzling meditation on failure, genius, and fame is a radical new reading experience: musical, paralysing, raging, and inimitable.Paperback, 192 pages.