Leaving the Atocha Station

Leaving the Atocha Station 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 attitude towards art Fuelled by strong co

  • Title: Leaving the Atocha Station
  • Author: Ben Lerner
  • ISBN: 9781847086914
  • Page: 233
  • Format: Paperback
  • Leaving the Atocha Station

    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 attitude towards art Fuelled by strong coffee and self prescribed tranquillizers, Adam s research soon becomes a meditation on the possibility of authenticity, as he finds himself increasingly troubled by the uncrAdam 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 attitude towards art Fuelled by strong coffee and self prescribed tranquillizers, Adam s research soon becomes a meditation on the possibility of authenticity, as he finds himself increasingly troubled by the uncrossable distance between himself and the world around him It s not just his imperfect grasp of Spanish, but the underlying suspicion that his relationships, his reactions, and his entire personality are just as fraudulent as his poetry.

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    One thought on “Leaving the Atocha Station

    1. Paul Bryant

      One of those memoirs which with a light dusting of name changing and event rearranging gets to be called a novel. Whether it is one or not is no longer a question which anyone asks. The autobiographical novel is a grand tradition* - this one stars a more than somewhat bi-polar American student (prone to lying outrageously for no reason and having wild spending sprees with his parents’ dough) who is the most cheese-paringly psychologically self-regarding a narrator since Henry Late Period James [...]

    2. Jonathan Ashleigh

      I read Leaving the Atocha Stations in a couple of days and am still running the story through my head. It has language strange to the novel setting but welcome and is a book I wish I had written for its sentiments about Americans. It reminded me greatly of The Sorrows of Young Mike, which also contains AIM conversations and is also about an American abroad. Each of the books are unique but they often bring up similar issues and themes. Ben Lerner has outdone himself with his first novel and if y [...]

    3. Orsodimondo

      11 MARZO 2004 L’immagine di copertina.Adam Gordon è un giovane poeta americano che ha da poco pubblicato una raccolta di poesie e ha vinto una borsa di studio per passare un anno in Spagna, a Madrid.La stessa cosa è successa a Benjamin Lerner, che è l’autore di questo bel romanzo, molto divertente (molto acclamato in patria, un po’ meno da noi mi pare): anche Lerner passò un anno, o giù di lì, a Madrid, nello stesso periodo in cui Adam Gordon era nella capitale spagnola. È certo che [...]

    4. Greg

      It's been like ten years since I saw or read Trainspotting, but I remember being annoyed with the movie when I first saw it. The book had ended with a nihilistic pessimism that the movie kind of spun into a 'selling-out' of sorts (if cleaning up, screwing over your friends and trying to escape the zombie existence of a junkie can be called selling out). The young, angry and idealized version of myself kind of hated the ending to the movie. As I made my way through this book, the voice of Ewan Mc [...]

    5. Ivan Goldman

      What's curious about this book is the attention and adulation it's received. 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 hails from the same town, attended the same school, etc. This character/author incessantly lies to acquaintances for no apparent reason and then is nauseated. In fact, page after page the guy is literally, not figuratively nauseous or vomiting. Many critics seemed to think this book was an [...]

    6. Lee

      Fiction that feels unlike fiction is my favorite sort of fiction. 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. 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) [...]

    7. Biron Paşa

      Atocha'dan Ayrılış'ta Genç şair Adam Gordon'ın burslu olarak bir yıllığına Madrid'te geçirdiği zamanları okuyoruz. 22:04'teki üsluba ve tarza çok benzeyen -ama bence biraz daha samimi ve biraz daha güçlü ve hatta daha derli toplu, çok şeyden bahseden, özgün ve zekice bir anlatımla karşı karşıyayız. Yine 22:04'teki gibi otobiyografik bir hikâye var.Samimiyet sözcüğünü sevmem, samimi olduğu iddiasında bulunulan kişilerden de genelde nefret ederim; çünkü topl [...]

    8. Juan

      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.Adam, the narrator and a stand-in for Lerner, a poet himself, has interesting things to say about poetry as the art of potentiality, as a way to embody the virtual, the "subjunctive": what could be but is not and will not. This paradox ("embodying the virtual") leads him to conclude that [...]

    9. Roxane

      No. No. No. Beautiful writing at the sentence level. Often funny. Too much meditation about the nature and meaning of art. I just hate those kinds of books. I like stories.

    10. Konserve Ruhlar

      Kitap anlatmaya çalıştığı yazar-şair olma/olamama durumunu başarıyla yansıtıyor. Başka bir ülkede akıcı konuşmadığın bir dilde var olabilme kaygısı o kadar iyi anlatılmış ki, çoğunlukla kendimden izler buldum. Kahramanımız Adam'in anlatmaya zorlandığı hisleri, o karışık ruh durumu, alkol ve uyuşturucunun etkisi ve sanat yapma çabasıyla ilişkisi çok iyi anlatılmış. Edebi sahtekarlığın sınırlarında gezinen iç seslerle bezenmiş bir kitap.

    11. Amanda

      I bought this book with high hopes -- from the description I thought it might have some of the qualities of Arthur Phillips's PRAGUE, but with a Madrid setting (resonant for me since I'm currently writing about that city, albeit in a very different era). I was, I hate to say, disappointed. Perhaps I was missing a layer of irony, but I almost immediately lost patience with and sympathy for the narrator, Adam Gordon – a pampered pseudo-poet who is wasting a prestigious fellowship smoking dope an [...]

    12. Sam

      Sort of a head-splitting book. 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. 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? I guess I could say the book's outrageous sense of self-obsession is saved by its brutal honesty [...]

    13. Denae

      That this book is impressively boring is probably the most positive thing I have to say about it. I found it vapid and remarkably without point. It is the story of an uninteresting, probably intended to be considered tortured, young American poet who pretended his way into a fellowship in Spain by stating his intention to write a poem about a subject about which he knows nothing. He has no intention of writing said poem. That this is the character is not, of course, the true problem with the boo [...]

    14. Jeff Jackson

      Well wrought meditations on aesthetics and the creative process wrapped inside a character driven narrative. Questions the existence of a "profound experience of art" while trying to both engage with and offer one. Recommended to fans of Geoff Dyer.

    15. Blair

      I read Leaving the Atocha Station in Madrid, which undoubtedly helped me enjoy its tale of a young American poet adrift in the Spanish city. The narrator, Adam, is grotesquely honest about everything, particularly his profuse self-doubt and almost compulsive habit of engaging in completely pointless deception. At times this gives him a vulnerability that is sweet and endearing; at times it makes him seem an objectionable manipulator – sometimes both in the same paragraph. (And never more so th [...]

    16. Cosimo

      Nascendo tra gli specchiLerner in questo libro sembra interessarsi all'ambiguità del reale: un giovane poeta, morbosamente indeciso e bugiardo, si trasferisce a Madrid con una borsa di studio e partecipa a feste e eventi artistici; impostore che finge di fare ricerche, a disagio con il proprio talento, frequenta due donne che amano il suo essere straniero e la sua identità sdoppiata ed è coinvolto da spettatore nel drammatico attentato alla stazione di Atocha dell'11 marzo. Adam Gordon è un [...]

    17. Francisco H. González

      Mirando la solapa del libro, parece que esta novela ha gustado bastante a los americanos. Ahí aparece nada menos que Jonathan Franzen, diciendo que la novela de Ben Lerner es hilarante e inteligente. El caso es que yo no soy americano, tampoco soy Franzen y la novela me ha gustado lo justo, por los pelos.La portada del libro es bonita, alegre, gozosa, esa portada que al verla te lleva sin remisión a un día de junio en Madrid, cuando atiza el calor y uno fantasea con paliar la sed en cualquier [...]

    18. Melanie

      A little disappointing. I think I am getting tired of young super smart, over-educated young men who can't "feel" The novel has nice moments though and the writing is fluid and elegant.

    19. Ellie

      The narrator of Leaving the Atocha Station is Adam Gordon, a young American poet living in Madrid on a fellowship. 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. He is a chronic liar (he tells a woman that his m [...]

    20. Jennifer Andrews

      I read this because of Maureen Corrigan's recommendation on NPR. I finished it only because it was relatively short and because I had to get it on inter-library loan.The protagonist is such a cowardly, self-absorbed, ridiculous person that I found very little of this book to be enjoyable. I really don't know why it came so highly recommended. Very, very disappointed with this book. The last sentence was so terrible that I actually laughed out loud when I read it. It seemed as if the author didn' [...]

    21. Keith

      I came to Leaving the Atocha Station via a recommendation on The Millions blog from Paul Murray, author of two recent favorites, Skippy Dies and An Evening of Long Goodbyes. Since his books were so great it only stands to reason that his recommendation must be tinged with equal brilliance, right?Since Murray started this for me, here's his recommendation:My two favourite novels this year, though, were debuts. Leaving the Atocha Station is the story of a gifted but disillusioned young poet on a f [...]

    22. Aaron

      There are obvious winners in a meritocratic system - there are the chosen ones blessed with enough genetic and generational advantages to be comfortably pre-positioned over all competitors. There are real competitors who manage to figure out the Great American Alchemy of converting sweat to gold. 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 [...]

    23. Michael

      The best, most engrossing recent novel I've read in a while. Highly recommended.In graduate school I tested out different terms to describe the kind of fiction I was trying to write, besides "experimental fiction". One was "associative fiction." This meant stories that derived their power not primarily from narrative urgency but from intuitive leaps, correspondences or simply readerly trust in/curiosity about the movements of the authorial mind. Associative poetry, I'd say, is just another way o [...]

    24. Sam

      "The problem of leisure/what to do for pleasure." - Gang of Four.This could have been so bad. A first novel (I think?). An autobiography dressed up as a novel. A bildungsroman about a young American abroad. When we meet Adam Gordon, he is on a poetry fellowship in Madrid. Adam makes friends, gets high, wanders around, writes poetry, and has occasional contact with, you know, like, actual Spanish people. There are several lackluster love affairs, a poetry reading. The plot is so thin that the who [...]

    25. christa

      Adam Gordon is a poet who seems to hate poetry. He’s gotten himself a pretty sweet fellowship, a year-long stay in Spain with a project, that, when explained, rings sort of false. 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. There is no crisis of conscience when he takes a tragic story his friend tells and makes it his own meaningful tale. He’s also got a steady diet of white pills and s [...]

    26. Magdelanye

      Adam Gordon is living the life of a poet in Madrid on fellowship from his American university. Still, sensing a great divide between his experience and the reactions of others, he is filled with anxious awareness of being a fraud, a disconnect. Of course, given his rudimentary grasp of Spanish and the grandiose claims he has made for his thesis, it is hardly surprising that he feels distanced from reality, adrift in a foreign culture. I'm not convinced the drugs and the alcohol help.The first ph [...]

    27. Gustavo

      Esta inteligente novela (perdón el cliché), es un antídoto contra la solemnidad. El personaje de Ben Lerner viaja a España favorecido por una beca que le ayudará con su proyecto que involucra la poesía y el legado de la Guerra Civil Española, aun cuando no tiene ni idea sobre política y ni parece interesado en saberlo.Lo que hace valiosa esta novela de Ben Lerner es que es tremendamente contradictoria, a ratos ofrece profundas reflexiones sobre el lenguaje, el alcance de la poesía y el [...]

    28. Bandit

      I think the best thing about this book was its brevity. It sounded interesting enough, but turned out to be a thoroughly unexciting narrative about a thoroughly unexcited person. Specifically, an American poet in Spain on a prestigious fellowship, who spends his time rolling spliffs, taking tranquilizers, wasting money, trying to impress women and lying. At some point he also happens to be near the Atocha station at the time of the 2004 tragedy. This isn't even interesting as an armchair trip to [...]

    29. Forrest

      This is the first book of fiction that I've been able to finish in many years. It has a lot in common with The Moviegoer by Walker Percy in terms of the narrator's tone.I really liked the way the author handled the main character's mis/understanding of the Spanish being spoken around him and the fragile nature of poetry and love.

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