Getting to know Thomas Bernhard is like entering a darker part of reality: His book "the voice imitator" lightens everyday stories, stories that we daily come across as a side note. Bernhard's world is full of cynical and dark views on the human condition and so is this book: 104 very short parable-like stories deconstruct habits and offer more than just a glimpse into intimate and horrific moments, they reflect back on you, leaving you in desperate need of introspection and reflection. Bernhard's greatest gifts might be the connection between his dark Austrian humor (even though Austria's public criticized him for his views) and his biographic circumstances. In his early years he learned about refusal and as he suffered from a severe illness, death was always a central aspect of his life and writing. Death, suffering and nervous breakdowns are often found in his plays, novels and stories: He points out difficult and life threatening situations, deepest desperation and cynical incidents. His writing is full of extreme feelings, his characters are torn between hate and love, desperation and felicity.
Bernhard offers a very clear look on society's double-standards, but in a very cynical way. He presents shocking insights and brings up painful subjects. His writing is brilliant: he brings his stories in a nutshell and manages to deconstruct a whole personal universe within a few short sentences. This is a diametric contrast to his novels: I do not know another writer that strings together so many multi-clause sentences.
If you are new to Thomas Bernhard I would highly recommend to start with "The Voice Imitator" to find out about his dark perspective on the world. I highly recommend his books, even though I guess one should not read (or watch) any of his works whilst being depressive.
To me Bernhard has a great sense of humor (he once said he could not understand why some people are terrified by his books, he mostly laughs while writing and reading them), he offers absurd and extreme characters and plots and will make you shudder and turn you to introspection. If you are fascinated with dark humor like Monthy Python or Roald Dahl, Thomas Bernhard is definitely worth a closer look.
Thomas Bernhard is often connected with food. He was a huge fan of Austrian coffee house culture and eating can be found in many passages of his books. Most of the time -of course- because anyone announces his disgust.I could have made a vegan version of Sacher cake or apfelstrudel, but instead I came up with another idea:
Thinking about Bernhard's literature I thought about molecular gastronomy, as this cooking style tends to construct and deconstruct dishes, just like he did to literature and decided to honor a short phrase from one of his novels: The character tells how much he hates the potato soup he is forced to eat on a regular base. So here we go, a deconstructed potato soup. I am very sure: If Bernhard had seen this, he would have called it "Brutalität" (brutality). Which is the best compliment I could go for.