The Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) is acknowledged as one of the major writers of our time. The seven stories in this collection capture Bernhard's distinct darkly comic voice and vision - often compared to Kafka and Musil - commenting on a corrupted world. First published in German in 1967, these stories were written at the same time as Bernhard's early novels Frost , Gargoyles , and The Lime Works , and they display the same obsessions, restlessness, and disarming mastery of language. Martin Chalmers' outstanding translation, which renders the work in English for the first time, captures the essential personality of the writing. The narrators of these stories lack the strength to do anything but listen and then write, the reader in turn becoming a captive listener, deciphering the traps laid by memory - and the mere words, the never-ending words with which we try to pin it down. Words that are always close to driving the narrator crazy, yet, as Bernhard writes, 'not completely crazy'.