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Leaving the Atocha Station

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  8,744 ratings  ·  968 reviews
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 fo ...more
Paperback, 181 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Coffee House Press
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Stefan I thought it was pure genius: don't forget that Adam is still just a very young, almost neurotic uncertain, immature boy. I thought it to be very…moreI thought it was pure genius: don't forget that Adam is still just a very young, almost neurotic uncertain, immature boy. I thought it to be very believable. Luckily for us this insecurity and immaturity was described with such a mature voice. Weird and genius. I thought it was quite original to read about someone that would drive you mad if you met him in real life. (less)

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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,744 ratings  ·  968 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
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. ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
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 si siano inc
Jan 04, 2012 rated it liked it

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
Ivan Goldman
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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) ...more
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
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 toplum tarafından samimi bulunan, adı böyle
Konserve Ruhlar
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nascendo tra gli specchi

Lerner 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 uomo
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 and
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 than ...more
Jeff Jackson
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Ivana Nešić
Nikad u svom životu nisam poželela da tučem nekog kao ovog protagonistu ovde.
Pretenciozni pesnik koji misli da je bolji od sebe zato što je svestan da je pretenciozno govedo, ali ni sam narator, kao očigleno ni autor nisu svesni da nisu svesni koliko su obojica zapravo pretenciozni.
Marcello S
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prima rilettura del 2018.

L’ho consigliato a una persona e mi è venuta voglia di rifiondarmici dentro.
Leggermente meno entusiasmante rispetto al ricordo che ne avevo. Ma per me è così quasi sempre, al secondo giro.
Il suo sguardo obliquo sull’idea dell’artista da giovane resta però indissolubile. [74/100]

In calce, la considerazione più intelligente: Teresa non sarà mai davvero raggiungibile / Teresa è la ragazza perfetta.
Alla prossima rilettura questo deve essere un caposaldo.

Mi sforzai di immagi
Jordi Via
No quiero ser cruel y votar con una estrella, en parte porque gracias a esta novela he descubierto a Ashbery.
Pero he de admitir que me ha aburrido, que no he disfrutado, y que encontrar un plagio evidente de Almódovar casi al principio de la novela, hizo que no la leyera con mucho ánimo.
Quizá a la "beautiful people" le guste, yo no formo parte ni quisiera.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 mother, a ...more
Jennifer Andrews
Jan 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
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'
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, ebooks, fiction
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
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The Fraudulent
Recommended to Aaron by: Evan Hansen
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 ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 spliffs ...more
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
David M
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
What if, instead of being deranged, the underground man were merely bored and cynical?

This is an enervating read. Several times in its short span I considered quitting. Very little happens, and I almost found myself wishing for even less. Because what human drama there is is incorrigibly - perhaps defiantly - banal. I sometimes take banality more personally than I probably should. I couldn't shake the feeling that the narrator-hero was representative in some way, the voice of a generation, or on
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Benjamin S. Lerner is an American poet, novelist, and critic. He was awarded the Hayden Carruth prize for his cycle of fifty-two sonnets, The Lichtenberg Figures. In 2004, Library Journal named it one of the year's twelve best books of poetry. The Lichtenberg Figures appeared in a German translation in 2010, for which it received the "Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie" in 2011, mak ...more
“I tried hard to imagine my poems or any poems as machines that could make things happen, changing the government, or the economy or even their language, the body or its sensorium, but I could not imagine this, could not even imagine imagining it. And yet when I imagined the total victory of those other things over poetry, when I imagined, with a sinking feeling, a world without even the terrible excuses for poems that kept faith with the virtual possibilities of the medium, without the sort of absurd ritual I'd participated in that evening then I intuited an inestimable loss, a loss not of artworks but of art, and therefore infinite, the total triumph of the actual, and I realized that, in such a world, I would swallow a bottle of white pills.” 15 likes
“I could imagine it in a way that felt like remembering” 10 likes
More quotes…