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10:04 by Ben Lerner
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10:04 (2014)

by Ben Lerner

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I suspect this is one of those books that's brilliantly written, but my lower rpm brain probably needs another pass or two to see that for myself. A novel written by a poet, Lerner puts together some beautiful and at times dense prose. You'll have to look up a word or two as well, which is always fun. An author writing about an author's authorial experience is a meta rich reading experience. The plot unwinds as the narrative progresses, but that may be by design. Lerner really does an excellent job of looking at identity and nature of time. Like any sophisticated work of art, it's worth revisiting, no matter how well you think you get it. ( )
  traumleben | Apr 2, 2017 |
This book probably isn't for you. It's a novel only in the sense of being a long, fictional prose narrative. What plot there is feels more like thread unspooling than a strong narrative drive. The protagonist-narrator is hypochondriacal, anxious, self-obsessed, and often pretentious. The language is dense, and the navigation of time and setting is often confusing. Long meditations on the utility of art, the nature of memory, and the substance of futurity are punctuated with detailed descriptions of the most banal, everyday bodily functions.

On the other hand, it's sometimes laugh out loud funny, sometimes sharply poignant, and always compelling. I loved it. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
To give this books its due, I will note that it was named “One of the Best Books of the Year” by:
The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, NPR, Vanity Fair, The Guardian (London), The L Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement (London), The Globe and Mail (Toronto), The Huffington Post, Gawker, Flavorwire, San Francisco Chronicle, The Kansas City Star, and The Jewish Daily Forward.

It was also the winner of The Paris Review‘s 2012 Terry Southern Prize and a finalist for the 2014 Folio Prize and the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award.

It’s another that I found only ‘meh”. Again, I think perhaps I’m too old.
3½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jan 7, 2017 |
I related very well to the basic premise of the main character's life: that he has "an asymptomatic idiopathic condition incidentally discovered" which is potentially capable of producing rapid fatality with minimal warning. That said, novels written by poets tend to go over my head, and this is no exception. I understand there are lots of references to art, literature and events embedded in this book, but I didn't see most of them. The symbolism was lost on me. There were lots of words I had to look up. Some of the abstract concepts were quite challenging for me. However, despite all of those reservations, I did enjoy this book. I warmed to the basic plot ideas, and I could understand just about all of the characters (Character 'Ben' says about his echocardiogram to check his risk of aortic dissection "I feared the test more than the dissection because I feared the surgery more than death.") It wasn't a perfect book for me but I reckon it's left a positive enough taste that I may go on to try his "Leaving Atocha Station". Creative? Yes, but a million miles ahead of another 'creative' novel I just finished with, Kennedy's "Serious Sweet". ( )
  oldblack | Oct 13, 2016 |
This is the kind of book that will either drive you mad, or force you to read and re-read until you unlock all of its layered connections and mysteries (which may result in driving you mad anyway). The title refers to the hour/minute time that the lightning strikes the courthouse in the movie “Back to the Future”, allowing the protagonist (Marty) to return to his present time. Lerner relishes language and the life of the writer. He embeds poetry from Walt Whitman, poems written by one of the novel’s characters thinking about Whitman, correspondence between poet William Bronk and possibly fictional characters, the outlines of a novel reconstructing made up correspondence between same, an entire story co-written with a teenage boy whom the novel’s protagonist is mentoring (complete with pictures of the dinosaurs which are the central plot), and relationships that flit between various versions of the characters (it is difficult to figure out which characters are the fictional characters created by the first person narrator and the different “possible” futures ascribed to all (I know that’s vague, but welcome to “10:04”). As the epigraph for the book (apparently one that Giorgio Agamben recounts, as told by Walter Benjamin to Ernst Bloch): “The Hassidim tell a story about the world to come that says everything there will be just as it is here… Everything will be as it is now, just a little different.” (Brian)
  ShawIslandLibrary | Aug 18, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0865478104, Hardcover)

A beautiful and utterly original novel about making art, love, and children during the twilight of an empire

Ben Lerner’s first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, was hailed as “one of the truest (and funniest) novels . . . of his generation” (Lorin Stein, The New York Review of Books), “a work so luminously original in style and form as to seem like a premonition, a comet from the future” (Geoff Dyer, The Observer). Now, his second novel departs from Leaving the Atocha Station’s exquisite ironies in order to explore new territories of thought and feeling.
     In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts. In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water.
     In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called “hilarious . . . cracklingly intelligent . . . and original in every sentence,” Lerner captures what it’s like to be alive now, when the difficulty of imagining a future has changed our relation to our present and our past. Exploring sex, friendship, medicine, memory, art, and politics, 10:04 is both a riveting work of fiction and a brilliant examination of the role fiction plays in our lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:12 -0400)

"A beautiful and utterly original novel about making art, love, and children during the twilight of an empire Ben Lerner's first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, was hailed as "one of the truest (and funniest) novels. of his generation" (Lorin Stein, The New York Review of Books), "a work so luminously original in style and form as to seem like a premonition, a comet from the future" (Geoff Dyer, The Observer). Now, his second novel departs from Leaving the Atocha Station's exquisite ironies in order to explore new territories of thought and feeling. In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts. In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water. In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called "hilarious. cracklingly intelligent. and original in every sentence," Lerner captures what it's like to be alive now, when the difficulty of imagining a future has changed our relation to our present and our past. Exploring sex, friendship, medicine, memory, art, and politics, 10:04 is both a riveting work of fiction and a brilliant examination of the role fiction plays in our lives"--… (more)

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