Set in Madrid, the novel is told in first-person by Adam Gordon, an American poet in his early 20s participating in a prestigious fellowship. The stated goal of his fellowship is to write a long narrative poem highlighting literature’s role in the Spanish Civil War. Gordon, however, spends his time reading Tolstoy, smoking spliffs, and observing himself observing his surroundings. He also pursues romantic and sexual relationships with two Spanish women, lying to them and others to elicit sympathy and avoid responsibility. He tells several people that his mother has recently died, recounts a friend’s experience of a failed attempt to rescue a drowned woman as if it was his own, and uses his (sometimes feigned) lack of Spanish fluency to falsely suggest that his thoughts are too profound and complex to convey outside of his native language. Especially when called upon to participate in poetry readings or discussion panels, Gordon grapples with feelings of fraudulence and anxiety.
Leaving the Atocha Station is the debut novel by American poet and critic Ben Lerner.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
- Explore with an artist on his way to master his craft.
- Adam is a fun guide… a bit unpredictable, but fun.