Leaving the Atocha Station

Leaving the Atocha Station

A Novel

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? A portrait of the artist as a young man in an age of Google searches, pharmaceuticals, and spectacle.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minn. : Coffee House Press, c2011.
ISBN: 9781566892742
Characteristics: 181 p. :,ill. ;,23 cm.

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eusebius
Nov 09, 2019

At first, it's hard to accept that Adam is in Madrid on a fellowship to study poets of the Civil War, so clueless is he, so incapable of expressing himself in Spanish, so lacking in understanding of the people around him. Yet he is there, stumbling through one awkward situation after another, trying to rely on cunning to get him through bad moments yet failing to summon up the cunning required. Imagine telling his girlfriend (if that's what she is) that his mother is dead on one page, then later referring to her as very much alive.
I was surprised to find I liked Adam, despite everything about him being fraudulent. Lerner's skill with character and situation (just see how he handles Adam and Isabel's visit to her mother, and the mother's disgust and amazement at Adam's churlishness--a triumph of observation) never seems to leave him. Recommended.

k
kikidog
Oct 19, 2019

Unusual writer; well worth reading; laugh-out-loud funny.

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.

l
lukasevansherman
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.

u
uncommonreader
Apr 12, 2014

Interesting, original, funny and thought provoking.

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