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Ben Lerner

Ben Lerner is the author of the acclaimed novels Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04.

Diary: On Disliking Poetry

Ben Lerner, 17 June 2015

What if we dislike or despise or hate poems because they are – every single one of them – failures? The poet and critic Allen Grossman tells a story (there are many versions of the story) that goes like this: you’re moved to write a poem because of some transcendent impulse to get beyond the human, the historical, the finite. But as soon as you move from that impulse to the actual poem, the song of the infinite is compromised by the finitude of its terms. So the poem is always a record of failure.

Knausgaard, Vol. 3

Ben Lerner, 21 May 2014

Most critics attempt to demonstrate a novelist’s perceptiveness by providing examples of his eye for the significant detail. But part of what makes Knausgaard’s writing unusual is that he seems barely to adjudicate significance; he’s like a child who has taken Henry James’s injunction to novelists – ‘be one of the people on whom nothing is lost’ – literally; he appears to just write down everything he can recall (and he appears to recall everything). It’s easy to marshal examples of what makes My Struggle mediocre. The problem is: it’s amazing.

'I'm a narcissist and so is Ben Lerner'

Joanna Biggs, 25 November 2019

The Topeka School (think New York School, or don’t) is more than a confession, an excuse, a romp, a holiday; it uses what has come from Lerner’s earlier experiments in autofiction –...

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Ben Lerner

Elaine Blair, 19 February 2015

The first thing the narrator of 10:04 does is make a lot of money.

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Ben Lerner

Sheila Heti, 30 August 2012

At the start of Leaving the Atocha Station, Adam Gordon, a young American in Spain for a year on a fellowship, purportedly to write ‘a long, research-driven poem’ about the Spanish...

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