Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (Aug 2011)
November 9, 2013 1 Comment
If you’ve ever lived as an ex-pat, you’ve gotta read this novel. You will see yourself in Lerner’s descriptions of the ex-pat community in Spain, even if it’s not particularly flattering. And if you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language, you will crack up at the riffs on misunderstood dialog. Let us count the myriad ways that we can fail to grasp what is being said to us in a language we hang on to by our fingernails. It’s also a good reminder of how hard it is to become fully fluent in English. Hence, an appropriate sympathy for immigrants. This novel is also about the art world, poetry, pretensions, feeling like a fraud, drugs, the nature of intimacy, how lies impinge on our relationships . . . there’s a lot here. It’s literary fiction that is relatively easy to read and often humorous. It’s not light, but it is short. It’s not a novel that will appeal to everyone. But I thought it quite brilliantly written.