Monday, August 24, 2009

Twisted Tales: The Lime Works

My current MFA advisor has a reading list that was given to him by a professor of his, though he's refined it a bit. It's a wonderfully eclectic collection of titles, and I'm happy to have learned of a book called The Lime Works from that list.

It's a book that may not be to all tastes. It's a rather eccentric work, and I had to get it via interlibrary loan because it's momentarily out of print, thus used-copy costs have sky-rocketed, but I believe it's scheduled for re-publishing next year as a mass market paperback.

Originally published in German, it is the tale of Konrad, an eccentric scholar denied formal education by his parents but determined in later years to craft a masterwork on the science of hearing.

Toward that end, he thwarts a cousin's efforts to prohibit his purchase of a vast, abandoned lime works and moves his invalid wife to the dark, cold plant to conduct hearing experiments to contribute to the perfect book he's convinced resides inside his head.

Author Thomas Bernhard tells Konrad's story in a manner that virtually puts the reader inside the character's twisted mind, though it's not a point of view story exactly. Instead the virtually stream-of-consciousness narrative is the amalgamation of several accounts compiled by an insurance man after Konrad's murder of his wife, which occurs on the opening page.

It's a twisted, dark tale of obsession, madness and one of the worst cases of writer's block ever. If you see a copy for under $40 grab it, and immerse yourself for a little while in the chilly, shadowy world of the lime works.


Charles Gramlich said...

One of the great things about academe is being introduced to works you'd never be likely to stumble on on your own. I've never heard of this but it certainly sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye out.

Lana Gramlich said...

What Charles said. Sounds deliciously twisted.

Sidney said...

Yeah, this is one I'd never heard of. It's off beat.

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