Leaving the Atocha Station

Leaving the Atocha Station

Book - 2011
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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. What is actual when our experiences are mediated by language, technology, medication, and the arts? Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader's projections? Instead of following the dictates of his fellowship, Adam's "research" becomes a meditation on the possibility of the genuine in the arts and beyond: are his relationships with the people he meets in Spain as fraudulent as he fears his poems are? A witness to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and their aftermath, does he participate in historic events or merely watch them pass him by?

In prose that veers between the comic and tragic, the self-contemptuous and the inspired, Leaving the Atocha Station is a portrait of the artist as a young man in an age of Google searches, pharmaceuticals, and spectacle.

Born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979, Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path. He has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, and the recipient of a 2010-2011 Howard Foundation Fellowship. In 2011 he became the first American to win the Preis der Stadt Münster für Internationale Poesie. Leaving the Atocha Station is his first novel.

Publisher: Minneapolis : Coffee House Press, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781566892742
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 181 p. : ill. ; 23 cm


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HMWLibrary2017 Jul 14, 2017

To the extent that I enjoy plotless navel-gazing, I enjoyed reading "Leaving Antioch Station." It was very clever in places and sometimes endearingly self-deprecating. I enjoyed it enough to read Lerner's most rest book.

Jun 04, 2015

It would've been easy for this debut novel to get decimated in the mine field of cliches and overly-familiar situations. You've got a feckless American poet on a fellowship in Spain who spends much time doing drugs and pursuing Spanish women than writing. You've got a narrator is a bit of a jerk, yet self-aware enough to make him less of a jerk. And you've got the Madrid bombing of 2004 for some historical weight. Yet Ben Lerner, a poet himself, makes it all hum beautifully, taking these hackneyed elements and creating something funny, nuanced, and moving. Partly it's because he pays unusually close attention to language and the book reads very well and partly it's because he embraces the cliches and breathes new life into them. Also see his most recent novel "10:04."

smg7 Feb 05, 2015

excellent. loved this and would read it again. so much going on here, and also funny.

Apr 12, 2014

Interesting, original, funny and thought provoking.


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