I was still living in Vienna when the death of Thomas Bernhard in the winter of 1989 was noted with near relish and observable relief by both the larger part of the Austrian press and the (not always) “silent majority” of the population. Despite the posthumous tide of Bernhard adulation, The Cheap Eaters is still little-known and read in German-speaking countries. This slim volume of philosophical-maniacal rants and furiously exhausted reflections from the beginning of Bernhard's final period reads like Musil or Wittgenstein knotted into Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man. It was brought into English with excellent care by Douglas Robertson and given the rare Bernhard-appropriate book cover design by Spurl Editions. Readers of E.M. Cioran, Elfriede Jelinek, Samuel Beckett, or Kafka will want to submit to Bernhard’s labyrinthian narrative of mangled existence and overwhelmed mind.— hp
Fiction. Translated by Douglas Robertson. THE CHEAP-EATERS have been eating at the Vienna Public Kitchen for years, and true to their name, always the cheapest meals. They become the focus of Koller's scientific attention when he deviates one day from his usual path through the park, leading him to come upon the cheap-eaters and to realize that they must be the focal piece of his years-long, unwritten study of physiognomy. The narrator, a former school friend of Koller's, tells of his relationship with Koller in a single unbroken paragraph that is both dizzying and absorbing. In Koller, the narrator observes a gradually ever-growing and utterly exclusive interest in thought... We can get close to such a person, but if we come into contact with him we will be repelled. Written in Bernhard's hyperbolic, darkly comic style, THE CHEAP-EATERS is a study of the limits of language and thought.