Paperback review: Leaving the Atocha Station, By Ben Lerner


This debut novel was rejected by mainstream publishers and you can see why: its portrait of an American abroad frequently walks a fine line between brilliance and naval-gazing.

Adam is a young poet on a fellowship in Madrid. Fuelled by espresso and a large spliff he visits the Prado daily where he concludes his most profound experience of art is an acceptance of  its “absence of profundity.” Kindred spirits will identify with Lerner’s questing and dissociated youth whose travels leave him feeling like “…a character in The Passenger, a movie I had never seen.”