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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  9,641 ratings  ·  1,170 reviews
In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unlikely literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal medical condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child. In a New York of increasingly frequent superstorms and social unrest, he must reckon with his own mortality and the prospect of fatherhood in a city that might soon ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Cheryl Cocaine use and Marfan's syndrome are each associated with an increased risk of 'dissection' of the aorta, in which a small tear occurs into the wall…moreCocaine use and Marfan's syndrome are each associated with an increased risk of 'dissection' of the aorta, in which a small tear occurs into the wall of the largest artery in the body. The fast-moving blood goes into the tear, and extends into the layers of the wall of the aorta, splitting them apart -- 'dissecting' them apart. May be rapidly fatal. (less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,641 ratings  ·  1,170 reviews

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R.A. Raab
Sep 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Im going to let the text of 10:04 by Ben Lerner do all the talking for me. This excerpt comes from page 47 of the book. See you at the bottom!

So this is how it works, I said to myself, as if Id caught an ideological mechanism in flagrante delicto: you let a young man committed to anticapitalist struggle shower in the overpriced apartment that you rent and, while making a meal you prepare to eat in common, your thoughts lead you inexorably to the desire to reproduce your own genetic material
William Wherry
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fluctuates between being brilliant and being the trivial ramblings of a pompous douchebag.
Adam Dalva
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A book to come back to. It is certainly not for everyone, and I'll recommend it more gingerly than many books that I've liked less. I'll try to go into why here.

10:04 (a great reference) has something of Wallace in how it takes pleasure in its own form, something of Sebald in its meandering, something of Vonnegut (oddly enough) in its looping, something of Roth in its pseudo-memoirishness. It is more than anything else a great New York novel, and I felt envy while reading it. It does surpass
Elyse  Walters
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book - the first time -over a year ago -after a 'Lisi-girls' - day in Walunt Creek --lunch and bookstore playing. This was an indi-treat purchase. I came home and started reading it immediately, but then set it down. I picked it up again and started from the beginning. .....set it down again --- - picked it up again - ( several cycles of reading: stop-start-stop). Eventually gears kicked in - and "10:04" had my undivided attention.

The writing itself is thought-provoking--
Nov 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
How much pretentiousness can you fit in a short book. I had a "mild lacrimal event" of joy when it was over
Rachel B. Glaser
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I truly love this book. 10:04 works like a drug, heightening thought and drawing awareness to thought. Lerner maps out the history, science, emotions, objects, habits, and vibes that make up the complexity of each felt moment. Beautiful meditation on language. A real blast to read! Does things I've never seen done! Things that recall Barth and Barthelme and Coover. It is personal while largely fabricated. It dances between life and fiction. The cover feels amazing to the touch. Epically "of the ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, us, 21-ce, new-york
Its easier to like an excellent book by someone who is dead, than it is to like one written by someone decades younger than yourself. Its true I tried to find convoluted ways to hate this novel. But I succeeded in realizing the truth: its superb. Not that this will help me sleep nights. Not that I wont agonize over its excellence in the days to come. But to quote Mr. Bufalino (not Gesualdo), its what it is.

The narrator is a millennial, a successful writer, a valetudinarian. Theres no plot. The
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nyc, hipsteria, novels, xy
The story is very aware of itself. It's the kind of story that looks in the mirror all day, rearranging its artfully disheveled bangs. I've called it a "story" twice but it's really more of an exercise. Kind of like spending an hour on a stationary bike. Afterwards, you feel like you've accomplished something but you're still in the same exact place.
Julie Ehlers
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
10:04 is a novel about how Ben Lerner signs a contract to write a particular novel, and then does a bunch of other things rather than write it. He goes to an artists' colony in Texas, where he works on poetry instead of on the novel. He decides whether to serve as a sperm donor for his best friend Alex, who cautions him not to put her in his novel. He weathers two (literal) hurricanes. He serves as a "big brother" of sorts for an elementary school student (they self-publish a brief book on ...more
Dottie B
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Well for one thing, I can't stand this title. 10:04? Who'd pick that? My favorite time is 4:30. That's when all my shows start coming on. Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, The People's Court, and Cops. Then the news! I love the news. But I did NOT love this book. Sorry, Ben. There's a bunch of pictures in here. This isn't a photography book. What are you, Ben? A photographer? NO YOU'RE NOT! A POET. AND POETS ARE SUPPOSED TO RISE ABOVE. Ben did not rise above. This character just seemed petty to me. ...more
James Noonan
Dec 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
Pretentious hipster lit. Couldn't shake the feeling from the get-go that here was an author, fresh out of Iowa or some other esteemed writers program, trying desperately to prove himself capable of producing something artful. It's such a shame since I loved Atocha Station, identified strongly with its narrator's aimlessness and thought the book offered keen insights on the creative process. But Lerner's follow-up is dreadful. The story (if you can call it that, seeing as so very little happens) ...more
Lee Klein
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Here's a longish review ("Warm Core: The Unusually Associative Cyclonic System of Ben Lerners 10:04") I wrote soon after the book came out in mid-September that's just appeared in the DecJan issue of the Brooklyn Rail:

The key insight: "The world rearranging itself around the narrator sounds a lot like solipsism, but instead of masturbating to Internet porn, the center of the rearranged world in this case does so in a fertility clinic to impregnate his
Paul Fulcher
May 23, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means". Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride)

10:04 would make a great end-of-term paper for a certain type of creative writing course.

It would score full marks for showing the writer's ability to use a thesaurus. The golden rules of this novel are to never say pigeon when you can wittily refer to "stout-bodied passerines" (your wit is shown all the more by doing this several times in the book), never say "it was foggy but not
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
10:04 marks a time particularly important in film-and the relationship of that film to this book. This book is quasi-factual, quasi-memoir, quasi-fiction in which those lines are constantly shifting and blurring. The author has had unusual success with his first literary work and is now facing a possibly fatal medical condition in a New York City that may be underwater at any moment.

The writing is brilliant. I had one particular favorite sentence that I insisted upon reading to anyone (and
David Katzman
Intellectual books can be wonderful. Books about intellectuals...not so much. I exaggerate for effect, but that happens to be the case here. Books about writers are not easy to pull off. Books about intellectual writers even harder because it's not as easy to invest emotionally in an intellectual as it is an actor, one who spends their timing doing, living, feeling, reacting versus one who spends paragraph after paragraph offering up critical and philosophical analyses of various occurrences and ...more
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
Ben Lerner's first novel, "Leaving the Atocha Station" was one of the most powerful reading experiences I've ever had, largely for purely personal reasons; I started reading that book (set mostly in Madrid and Barcelona) literally a day after I myself had concluded a visit to Spain, and seeing almost all of the places I had just visited serve as the background for that books gorgeous, misanthropic, elegantly sad narration was an extremely potent experience; like having a much more cynical, much ...more
Jonathan Pool
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit

Our narrator is asked to expand a recently published short story into a novel. Lines are blurred throughout the book as the narrator/author fictionalise truth and assume alternate characters - the mise en abyme conceit. The reader is taken on a metaphysical roller coaster that makes 10:04 anything but an easy read.
The book divides into five sections. In truth a number of the strands could be repositioned elsewhere in the book without distorting the overall meaning unduly.
We start with
Josh Friedlander
Terrific, like a scalding espresso on an icy morning. This is the book I need to be reading now. I read and loved its Iberian predecessor Leaving the Atocha Station earlier this year. From the opening scene, in which the author watches a man break down in front of a painting, and feels pangs of doubt about his own connection with his art, Lerner wrote with honesty and an indefatigable commitment to the search for artistic vision. It was a bildungsroman for this hyper-knowing, ironic and ...more
Robert Wechsler
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
I re-read this novel two months after first reading it, to see if it could hold up to a necessarily closer examination. For the most part it did. My level of enthusiasm was certainly lower, but I still greatly enjoyed Lerners prose style, ideas, and motifs.

This time around I saw a lot more Kundera in Lerner, in his use of motifs, in the way he structured the novel around set-pieces, and in his narrators emphasis on honesty in the midst of playful deception. But the level where the honesty plays
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
It is not one of those really 'well-written' books that are featured in various famous book-lists probably because every once in a while, it leaves the main string, to which it was attached on the first, and leaves the reader in an isolated place but in some places, it does have some provocative ideas with a really good voice, and has some striking poetic tangents like this:


Jen Von Ghoul
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ben writes about his external griefs, afraid of being a fraud, anxiety, friendships, surroundings, family, and love and not so in love in just a brilliant and beautiful stream of prose. Not once do I get the visual of him sitting at his desk writing this book and trying to find words to try and make him sound clever and important. It reads like he's writing for himself just trying to condense everything down so as to see what was real and what was fiction to keep it all together and accept his ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I know it's hard to understand / I am with you, and I know how it is," as if in winking acknowledgement of how baffling and frustrating this book gets. Read it not for the story, given there isn't really a single central one, but a bunch of them tenuously linked together by somewhat clumsy meditation/ramblings on Time, and also sometimes on Art. My feelings on this fall on the mixed side, hence the middling three-star rating that's more a placeholder than actual score, as some parts worked ...more
Larry H
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
You think you have problems? Ben, the narrator of Ben Lerner's sarcastic, intelligent new novel, 10:04, has you beat. While he's struggling to write a follow-up to his first novel now that he's gotten a generous advance, New York is under threat of two serious hurricanes (Irene and Sandy), and his longtime best friend wants to have a baby with himwhether he wants to be involved or not. Oh, and at any time, his aorta could rupture, so he's convinced himself he has every symptom imaginable.

Steven Langdon
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Once in a very long while I read a book I dream of writing, so imaginative in its structure to shatter conventions, so insightful in its web of characters and stories to feel like life itself. 10:04 is such a book. Its the novel that its narrator is planning and writing as he lives his textured, sometimes tortured life through a year in New York -- worried about environmental catastrophe, attending art receptions, agonizing over a possible dangerous illness, challenging the control of cash over ...more
Michael Livingston
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pretentious meta-(non)fiction, loaded with overwrought vocabulary and little in the way of plot. And yet I loved it.
What a pleasure this was to read. Like The Great Believers, it feels, in the best way, like A Proper Novel: everything about it is just so effortlessly good. It gives the impression of having been meticulously assembled and edited while retaining its, for lack of a better word, readability. I've tended towards weariness with autofiction recently, but this is a fine example of how to do it beautifully. I loved the stories-within-stories, loved the repeating phenomenon of the 'world rearranging ...more
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some books that one just clicks with. It is almost instinctive; you feel as if the author is talking to you directly. You do not so much read the book as channel it; this was one of those rare books for me.

I am hard-pressed to analyse why this particular book affected me so deeply. It will probably take a while to process; I do know, however, that I will be haunted by images and fragments for a long time to come. What appealed to me so much here is likely to be equally off-putting for
Rebecca Jordan
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have to say that, in general, there is nothing duller than a writer talking about how tough it is to be a writer. That is how this novel started out. I understand why people could view it as "pretentious." At first I found myself very put off by the overwhelming reflection on mundane objects or situations, the way the narrator would seem to obsess over them.

BUT! I still found myself picking up this book every night. It was not a chore to read (most of it). And the obsessing eventually played
I don't feel like I'm even qualified to speak competently about this book but I'll give it a go.

What is the book about? Nothing and everything at once, the presence of the past in our modern lives and our projected selves into a glimpsed future. On another plane its a novel about art and the creative process and how everything informs the artist and his worldview.

This is a novel about the writing of said novel so yes very meta. And I liked it. It gave my gray cells a workout and though you might
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-top-reads
The city had converted an elevated length of abandoned railway spur into an aerial greenway and the agent and I were walking south along it in the unseasonable warmth after an outrageously expensive celebratory meal in Chelsea that included baby octopuses the chef had literally massaged to death. We had ingested the impossibly tender things entire, the first intact head I had ever consumed, let alone of an animal that decorates its lair, has been observed at complicated play. We walked south
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Reading 1001: 10:04 by Ben Lerner 6 17 Oct 08, 2019 12:37PM  

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Ben 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, making ...more

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