Immediately engaging, for sure - crisp sentence rhythms, lots of vicious humor - but the narrator's intense engagement with his own detachment ends up setting the whole narrative in an odd middle distance. Unfortunately, the author does nothing with them. Gordon, however, spends his time reading Tolstoy, smoking spliffs, and observing himself observing his surroundings. There are quite a few passages in this book that made even me cringe. It won the 2011 Believer Book Award.. ", Ashbery called Lerner's Leaving the Atocha Station "[a]n extraordinary novel about the intersections of art and reality in contemporary life. Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader's projections? Ben Lerner is an American poet, novelist, and critic. What if, instead of being deranged, the underground man were merely bored and cynical? Yet Lerner’s truly virtuoso prose makes the despicable somehow compelling, and once you learn to laugh at (and occasionally with) our insufferable post-adolescent-poet-abroad narrator, the book is not only enjoyable but thought provoking and moving. This one explores intellectual and emotional terrain related to sensitive experience of what's real and contrived, propelled by a sustained sense of non-fictional narrative reality accentuated by author/narrator autobiographical overlap. He’s also got a steady diet of white pills and spliffs and a fascination with what he looks like when he a) makes this face; b) scribbles in his notebook; c) is viewed from an airplane. I found it vapid and remarkably without point. In fact, page after page the guy is literally, not figuratively nauseous or vomiting. Refresh and try again. One of those memoirs which with a light dusting of name changing and event rearranging gets to be called a novel. Seemed at its best when essayistically offering insight (not "indulging in interiority") about poetic creation/sensibilities, about reading poetry (Ashbery), and describing attacks on self (panic) or a city (terrorist). - Gang of Four. See 1 question about Leaving the Atocha Station…, at the artificial lake in Madrid's Parque de Buen Retiro, sitting for hours in front of a painting in the Prado. Fiction that feels unlike fiction is my favorite sort of fiction.  It won the 2011 Believer Book Award. Should I care about the struggles of a heavily medicated poet trying to have a deep experience of art when he doesn't seem that engaged with depth in the first place? He is a chronic liar (he tells a woman that his mother, alive and well in Kansas, is dead to get, I think, her sympathy) and wonders if his lies are art or pathology. (“…the tissue of contradictions that was my personality was itself, at best, a poem, where ‘poem’ is understood as referring to a failure of language to be equal to the possibilities it figures; only then could my fraudulence be a project and not merely a pathology”). That this is the character is not, of course, the true problem with the boo. It's memoir dressed up as a novel that is the author's lengthy reflection on a character that shares many traits with the author. He’s also got a steady diet of white pills and spliffs. He has no intention of writing said poem. Leaving the Atocha Station A Novel (Book) : Lerner, Ben : Adam Gordon is a brilliant, if highly unreliable, young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art. I found the main character, (somewhat autobiographical) so unlikeable that it made it hard to read. He tells several people that his mother has recently died, recounts a friend's experience of a failed attempt to rescue a drowned woman as if it was his own, and uses his (sometimes feigned) lack of Spanish fluency to falsely suggest that his thoughts are too profound and complex to convey outside of his native language. While the issues he brings up on creativity and art are meaningful, he presented himself as so thoughtless and shallow that I couldn't take it seriously. This book has two good things going for it: the narrator is smart (which is not usual), and his voice pulls off the "Humbert Humbert effect" of making you like him despite his being both a poser and a hypocrite. I want to hear the views of other readers?  The New Yorker included it in its Reviewers' Favorites from 2011. LibraryThing is a cataloging and social networking site for booklovers It reminded me greatly of. He’s got a flexible relationship with truth and suffers no shame for wiping spit under his eyes and pretending his mother has died to gain sympathy. What is actual when our experiences are mediated by language, technology, medication, and the arts? ", The New Statesman named it one of the best books of 2011. "The problem of leisure/what to do for pleasure." What is actual when our experiences are mediated by language, technology, medication, and the arts? I think the best thing about this book was its brevity. I thought it to be very believable. And then there are those rudderless bastards who have no real sense of what happened, who faked compliance with parental and then social definitions of success without ever fully investing and were rewarded as though none of it was ever a pantomime, promoted or elevated above the more passionate and dedicated by a boss or superior who couldn’t draw the necessary distinction between lucky improvisation and hard work. What is actual when our experiences are mediated by language, technology, medication, and the arts? One day I will have a daughter, and on the eve of her bat mitzvah I will give her this book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. I thought it was quite original to read about someone that would drive you mad if you met him in real life. Immediately engaging, for sure - crisp sentence rhythms, lots of vicious humor - but the narrator's intense engagement with his own detachment ends up setting the whole narrative in an odd middle distance. A little disappointing. He’s gotten himself a pretty sweet fellowship, a year-long stay in Spain with a project, that, when explained, rings sort of false. Leaving the Atocha Station tells the story of Adam, a poet on a prestigious yearlong fellowship in Madrid. I will say, "Read this, child, and learn something very important: learn why you should never date a poet. I found it vapid and remarkably without point. "The best Ashbery poems, I thought, although not in these words, describe what it's like to read an Ashbery poem. Welcome back. Instead of fo. As a result, I had never heard of him until recently, when "Leaving the Atocha Station" received favorable references among the laudatory reviews for Lerner's newest book, "10:04: A Novel.". Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner’s first novel, features a narrative voice both detached and almost painfully forthcoming, photographs with odd and often humorous captions, and hash, a surprising amount of hash. And then there are those rudderless bastards who have no real sense of what happened, who faked compliance with parental and then social definitions of success without ever fully investing and were rewa. That this is the character is not, of course, the true problem with the book. He hails from the same town, attended the same school, etc. The novel is narrated by Adam Gordon, a young American poet on fellowship in Madrid, where he’s supposedly researching a project on the literary legacy of the … He is supposed to be composing a “data driven” poem about responses to history but is instead spending his time doing drugs, drinking, falling in love (sort of) with two women, and trying to ascertain if it possible to be authentic, to be even real, or is everyone/everything as “fraudulent” (a word he uses often) as he fears. At some point he also happens to be near the Atocha station at the time of the 2004 tragedy. "Leaving the Atocha Station is the kind of book that feels lived rather than composed—a post-MFA The Catcher in the Rye for professional adolescents. Whether it is one or not is no longer a question which anyone asks.