10:04

10:04

A Novel

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
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" 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Faber & Faber, an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780865478107
0865478104
9780374711344
Branch Call Number: F LERNE-B
Characteristics: 244 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: 10-O-4

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l
lukasevansherman
Jul 27, 2015

Maybe because I'm an over-educated, over-privileged white liberal arts guy, but I often don't like contemporary novels by over-educated, privileged white guys, all of whom seem to live in Brooklyn and are named Jonathan. So I was surprised that I really enjoyed Ben Lerner's debut novel, "Leaving the Atocha Station." On the surface, it seemed hackneyed. The elements were familiar: an American writer living in Spain smokes, drinks, and loves too much while ignoring his work. Yet Lerner, who trained as a poet, made something fresh, funny, and insightful out of these overused elements. Conversely, his second novel second novel, "10:04, strives harder for novelty, but ends up feeling very much like other novels by younger New York writers (mostly named Jonathan). While it's often, but not always, a mistake to confuse the protagonist with the author, you can't help but notice a few similarities (writers from Kansas), which gives the book a Philip Roth-like meta level that doesn't really work. In "Atocha," dark reality intruded in the form of the 2005 Madrid Bombing, while here it's Hurrican Sandy. There's also a lot about art, which I found a little annoying. At it's worst it's self-indulgent and overly self-aware, like a better written Tao Lin book. And it's illustrated. Lerner's a better, smarter writer than many of his peers, but this was a let down. The title references "Back to the Future."

l
lukasevansherman
Jul 27, 2015

Maybe because I'm an over-educated, over-privileged white liberal arts guy, but I often don't like contemporary novels by over-educated, privileged white guys, all of whom seem to live in Brooklyn and are named Jonathan. So I was surprised that I really enjoyed Ben Lerner's debut novel, "Leaving the Atocha Station." On the surface, it seemed hackneyed. The elements were familiar: an American writer living in Spain smokes, drinks, and loves too much while ignoring his work. Yet Lerner, who trained as a poet, made something fresh, funny, and insightful out of these overused elements. Conversely, his second novel second novel, "10:04, strives harder for novelty, but ends up feeling very much like other novels by younger New York writers (mostly named Jonathan). While it's often, but not always, a mistake to confuse the protagonist with the author, you can't help but notice a few similarities (writers from Kansas), which gives the book a Philip Roth-like meta level that doesn't really work. In "Atocha," dark reality intruded in the form of the 2005 Madrid Bombing, while here it's Hurrican Sandy. There's also a lot about art, which I found a little annoying. At it's worst it's self-indulgent and overly self-aware, like a better written Tao Lin book. And it's illustrated. Lerner's a better, smarter writer than many of his peers, but this was a let down. The title references "Back to the Future."

manoush Apr 29, 2015

As a reading experience this is pleasant enough, but doesn't leave a lasting impression. The narrator/author is at pains to show that he's self-aware and has the right politics; every few pages there's a reference to how overpriced something is, as if the narrator is signaling that while he may partake of a gentrified Brooklyn lifestyle, he's totally attuned to his white male privilege. This announcement effect runs throughout the book. Like other sensitive, educated white males, he mentors a Latino boy, makes fun of the casual, oblivious racism of his neighbors, and is willing to donate his sperm so that his best friend can have a baby. Lerner seems hyper-aware of an audience and eager to impress readers. There's a self-consciousness to his writing and an arch, earnestly "introspective" voice that aches to draw attention to itself. But none of his sentences struck me as coming from an authentic impulse. 10:04 feels more like a clever young man's showy ruminations than a work that comes from a truly deep immersion in life.

c
confloptus
Mar 23, 2015

Brilliant book! Didn't want it to end. Gorgeous sentences, tumbling. It's all a circle.

librarylizzard Feb 16, 2015

This was an interesting read in that I couldn't decide if I loved it or hated it. In a nutshell: a struggling author is composing a new work based around the concepts of forgery and fabrication. As you read, he makes it clear that the result is the very book you are holding in your hands. The perspective drifts, sometimes imperceptibly, between what the reader perceives as the author's "real" life and his created fictional storyline.

After a while, though, his lack of self confidence and constant anxiety wore me down and I wanted to be done with the book. I would recommend reading a chapter or two and deciding if it's up your alley.

AnneDromeda Dec 23, 2014

10:04 is a spectacular novel about nothing much, and you need to read it.
As much memoir as novel, 10:04 documents the struggles of its author, Ben Lerner, to create a second novel. Lerner identifies as a poet primarily, and only embarks on a second novel after having been offered “a strong six figures” to do so. If his best friend hadn’t asked him to donate sperm and possibly coparent a child, Lerner might have turned the offer down; but she asked, so he takes it.
This fractured family narrative - needing to be a breadwinner for a family that only liminally exists and has no cultural framework - is one example of the kind of broken mythic narrative Lerner explores in 10:04. The novel is bookended by a pair of unseasonal hurricanes striking New York City, and the inability to any longer pinpoint oneself in the year using seasonal markers shared by the culture is another narrative thread. Even the title, 10:04, refers to a moment in several times and no time - it’s the moment in Back to the Future when Marty McFly travels from the 1950s “back” to 1985.
The entire novel is woven from the warp and weft of Millennial relativist anxiety - in a world that’s deconstructed all its cultural, spacial and even environmental meaning, how does one place oneself, know oneself, or build a kind of meaning into one’s life? What sort of narratives can survive time, or exist outside of it?
This is the first novel I’ve ever read that could only have been written by a Millennial, and if this is what Generation Y will bring to literature, then I’m no longer afraid for the written word. The sheer luminous beauty of Lerner’s lost prose gave me chills - actual chills - and kept me awake at night rolling his words around, seeking new meaning. 10:04 is highly recommended to anyone wondering if the novel will survive the age of the 140 character limit.

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AnneDromeda Dec 23, 2014

10:04 is a spectacular novel about nothing much, and you need to read it.
As much memoir as novel, 10:04 documents the struggles of its author, Ben Lerner, to create a second novel. Lerner identifies as a poet primarily, and only embarks on a second novel after having been offered “a strong six figures” to do so. If his best friend hadn’t asked him to donate sperm and possibly coparent a child, Lerner might have turned the offer down; but she asked, so he takes it.
This fractured family narrative - needing to be a breadwinner for a family that only liminally exists and has no cultural framework - is one example of the kind of broken mythic narrative Lerner explores in 10:04. The novel is bookended by a pair of unseasonal hurricanes striking New York City, and the inability to any longer pinpoint oneself in the year using seasonal markers shared by the culture is another narrative thread. Even the title, 10:04, refers to a moment in several times and no time - it’s the moment in Back to the Future when Marty McFly travels from the 1950s “back” to 1985.
The entire novel is woven from the warp and weft of Millennial relativist anxiety - in a world that’s deconstructed all its cultural, spacial and even environmental meaning, how does one place oneself, know oneself, or build a kind of meaning into one’s life? What sort of narratives can survive time, or exist outside of it?
This is the first novel I’ve ever read that could only have been written by a Millennial, and if this is what Generation Y will bring to literature, then I’m no longer afraid for the written word. The sheer luminous beauty of Lerner’s lost prose gave me chills - actual chills - and kept me awake at night rolling his words around, seeking new meaning. 10:04 is highly recommended to anyone wondering if the novel will survive the age of the 140 character limit.

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