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Leaving The Atocha Station (Book Review)

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For those of you who are interested in reading about countries before you visit, I offer the following.

Leaving The Atocha Station by Ben Lerner is the Blair Witch Project of novels. Unless someone told you what it was supposed to be, there would be no reason to believe that it was insightful and funny. I attributed my initial irritation to my advanced age and an antiquated sensibility, but soon realized it was the novel itself. As people over the age of 21 should not pick up their dates on a skateboard, they should also stop bragging or recounting their drug and drinking moments. It is tedious and a trite reminder, especially for an accomplished poet, of a desolate life.There was one or two throw away lines that were funny, but otherwise, I needed canned laughter as a matter of instruction. I have spent considerable time in Spain and for someone who supposedly trades in the human condition Lerner offers little insight into modern Spain and Spaniards. And while he does mention the bombing at Atocha station, his is not an illumination of the event, but a flawed attempt to offer a different emotion. He loves his Jamesian sentences and there some beautiful phrases, but they seem to be screaming, "Hey I am successful poet and this novel is my experiment. And don't forget it."

Upon reading the professional praise and then reading the novel, I felt like I was taken. In essence this is a self-indulgent, humorless, solipsistic bore.

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