Denae's Reviews > Leaving the Atocha Station

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
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Jan 08, 2015

did not like it
bookshelves: random-discovery, list-worst-books-read-in-2011, read-in-2011, challenge-1010-by-2020, dead-tree-book
Read on August 14, 2011

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 book. Those surface facts do not necessarily result in a bad book. Unfortunately, the author does nothing with them. The character has no depth, he mostly spends the book getting high and pretending to care about things, and there are several wandering discourses on writing and poetry which I imagine are intended to sound clever. The promise of the book having something, anything to do with the Madrid train bombings is unrealized and that event becomes merely a backdrop for more musing on the part of the character about his disconnectedness. Even that is implied to be affectation.

I know nothing about Ben Lerner or his poetry. It could be it is quite good. Regardless, he should have stuck to it rather than prose. One hopes he does a better job in his role as creative writing teacher than he does in that of author.


Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program.
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Reading Progress

08/14/2011 page 186
100.0% "That it is remarkably boring is probably the most positive thing I have to say about this book."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Pauline This is the exact same way I feel. Struggling through this......


Denae It's rare that I don't finish something, but I came close with this. Could there be any more obvious of a Mary Sue quality?


Pauline I know, this was the longest that I have ever taken to read a book this short. I just wanted something, ANYTHING to happen. Which didn't really occur :[


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