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About Ben Lerner
Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry (The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path), three novels (Leaving the Atocha Station, 10:04, and The Topeka School) and a work of criticism (The Hatred of Poetry). His collaborations with artists include Blossom (with Thomas Demand), The Polish Rider (with Anna Ostoya), and The Snows of Venice (with Alexander Kluge). Lerner has been a a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations. In 2011 he won the "Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie", making him the first American to receive this honor. Lerner teaches at Brooklyn College, where he was named a Distinguished Professor of English in 2016.
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FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A TIME, GQ, Vulture, and WASHINGTON POST TOP 10 BOOK of the YEAR
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize
Winner of the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award
ALSO NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: Esquire, NPR, Vogue, Amazon, Kirkus, The Times (UK), Buzzfeed, Vanity Fair, The Telegraph (UK), Financial Times (UK), Lit Hub, The Times Literary Supplement (UK), The New York Post, Daily Mail (UK), The Atlantic, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian (UK), Electric Literature, SPY.com, and the New York Public Library
From the award-winning author of 10:04 and Leaving the Atocha Station, a tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century: a tale of adolescence, transgression, and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the New Right
Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of ’97. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting “lost boys” to open up. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. He is one of the cool kids, ready to fight or, better, freestyle about fighting if it keeps his peers from thinking of him as weak. Adam is also one of the seniors who bring the loner Darren Eberheart—who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father’s patient—into the social scene, to disastrous effect.
Deftly shifting perspectives and time periods, The Topeka School is the story of a family, its struggles and its strengths: Jane’s reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan’s marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a riveting prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the New Right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men.
Winner of the Patrick White Literary Award, 1999. Introduction by Wayne Macauley.
There is no book in Australian literature like The Plains. In the two decades since its first publication, this haunting novel has earned its status as a classic.
A nameless young man arrives on the plains and begins to document the strange and rich culture of the plains families. As his story unfolds, the novel becomes, in the words of Murray Bail, ‘a mirage of landscape, memory, love and literature itself’.
Gerald Murnane was born in Melbourne in 1939. He has been a primary teacher, an editor and a university lecturer. His debut novel, Tamarisk Row (1974), was followed by ten other works of fiction, including The Plains and most recently Border Districts. In 1999 Murnane won the Patrick White Award and in 2009 he won the Melbourne Prize for Literature. He lives in western Victoria.
Wayne Macauley is the author of three novels, Blueprints for a Barbed-Wire Canoe (2004), Caravan Story (2007) and The Cook (2011), and the short fiction collection Other Stories (2010). He lives in Melbourne.
‘Murnane is quite simply one of the finest writers we have produced.’ Peter Craven
‘A distinguished, distinctive, unforgettable novel.’ Shirley Hazzard
‘Gerald Murnane is unquestionably one of the most original writers working in Australia today and The Plains is a fascinating and rewarding book...The writing is extraordinarily good, spare, austere, strong, often oddly moving.’ Australian
‘A piece of imaginative writing so remarkably sustained that it is a subject for meditation rather than a mere reading...In the depths and surfaces of this extraordinary fable you will see your inner self eerily reflected again and again.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘The Plains has that peculiar singularity that can make literature great.’ Ed Wright, Australian, Best Books of 2015
‘Murnane touches on foibles and philosophy, plays with the makings of a fable or allegory, and all the while toys with tone, moving easily from earnest to deadpan to lightly ironic, a meld of Buster Keaton, the Kafka of the short stories, and Swift in A Modest Proposal…A provocative, delightful, diverting must-reread.’ STARRED Review, Kirkus Reviews
‘Known for its sharp yet defamiliarizing take on the landscape and an aesthetic of purity historically associated with it, The Plains is uniformly described as a masterpiece of Australian literature. Look closer, though, and it's a haunting nineteenth-century novel of colonial violence captured inside the machine's test-pattern image—a distant, unassuming house on the plains.’ BOMB
A stunning, urgent, and original novel from Ben Lerner (The Topeka School and Leaving the Atocha Station) about making art, love, and children during the twilight of an empire.
Winner of The Paris Review's 2012 Terry Southern Prize
A Finalist for the 2014 Folio Prize and the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award
In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unlikely literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal medical condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child. In a New York of increasingly frequent superstorms and social unrest, he must reckon with his own mortality and the prospect of fatherhood in a city that might soon be underwater.
A writer whose work 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 is changing our relationship to both the present and the past.
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 The Jewish Daily Forward Tin House
In prose that veers between the comic and tragic, the self-contemptuous and the inspired, Leaving the Atocha Station is a portrait of the artist as a young man in an age of Google searches, pharmaceuticals, and spectacle.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979, Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path. He has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, and the recipient of a 2010-2011 Howard Foundation Fellowship. In 2011 he became the first American to win the Preis der Stadt Münster für Internationale Poesie. Leaving the Atocha Station is his first novel.
No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: "I, too, dislike it," wrote Marianne Moore. "Many more people agree they hate poetry," Ben Lerner writes, "than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore."
In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.
“Lerner [is] among the most promising young poets now writing.”—Publishers Weekly
“Sharp, ambitious, and impressive.” —Boston Review
National Book Award finalist Ben Lerner turns to science once again for his guiding metaphor. “Mean free path” is the average distance a particle travels before colliding with another particle. The poems in Lerner’s third collection are full of layered collisions—repetitions, fragmentations, stutters, re-combinations—that track how language threatens to break up or change course under the emotional pressures of the utterance. And then there’s the larger collision of love, and while Lerner questions whether love poems are even possible, he composes a gorgeous, symphonic, and complicated one.
You startled me. I thought you were sleeping
In the traditional sense. I like looking
At anything under glass, especially
Glass. You called me. Like overheard
Dreams. I’m writing this one as a woman
Comfortable with failure. I promise I will never
But the predicate withered. If you are
Uncomfortable seeing this as portraiture
Close your eyes. No, you startled
Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry and was named a finalist for the National Book Award for his second book, Angle of Yaw. He holds degrees from Brown University, co-founded No: a journal of the arts, and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Lichtenberg Figures, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award, is an unconventional sonnet sequence that interrogates the relationship between language and memory, violence and form. “Lichtenberg figures” are fern-like electrical patterns that can appear on (and quickly fade from) the bodies of people struck by lightning.
Throughout this playful and elegiac debut—with its flashes of autobiography, intellection, comedy, and critique—the vocabulary of academic theory collides with American slang and the idiom of the Old Testament meets the jargon of the Internet to display an eclectic sensibility.
Ben Lerner, the youngest poet ever published by Copper Canyon Press, is co-founder of No: a journal of the arts. He earned an MFA from Brown University and is currently a Fulbright scholar in Spain.
The man observes the action on the field with the tiny television he brought to the stadium. He is topless, painted gold, bewigged. His exaggerated foam index finger indicates the giant screen upon which his own image is now displayed, a model of fanaticism. He watches the image of his watching the image on his portable TV on his portable TV. He suddenly stands with arms upraised and initiates the wave that will consume him.
Haunted by our current war on terror,” much of the book was written while Lerner was living in Madrid (at the time of the Atocha bombings and their political aftermath), as the author steeped himself in the history of Franco and fascism. Regardless of when or where it was written, Angle of Yaw will further establish Ben Lerner as one of our most intriguing and least predictable poets.
FINALISTA DEL PREMIO PULITZER Y DEL NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
GANADORA DE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
UNO DE LOS MEJORES DIEZ LIBROS DEL AÑO SEGÚN THE NEW YORK TIMES Y THE WASHINGTON POST
Adam Gordon, promoción del 97, está en su último año del instituto Topeka, en Kansas. Es uno de los chicos cool del instituto, tiene novia, y es la estrella del equipo de debate. Ahora se espera de él que gane el campeonato nacional. Junto a sus padres psicoterapeutas, forman la típica familia norteamericana de intelectuales, judía y demócrata. La madre, célebre escritora feminista acusada por muchos del síndrome de la envidia del pene, afronta el desafío de criar a su hijo en un lugar dominado por una masculinidad tóxica. El padre, que tiene un don especial para tratar a los llamados "casos perdidos", logra que Darren Eberheart, sin amigos, sin novia y excluido de cualquier actividad, empiece a socializar, a pesar de las humillaciones de sus compañeros.
Desde estas cuatro perspectivas y con un deslumbrante dominio del lenguaje, Ben Lerner nos ofrece el retrato de una generación abrumada por el exceso de bienestar. Galardonada con Los Angeles Times Book Prize y finalista del Pulitzer, esta estimulante y ambiciosa novela nos muestra la antesala del agitado presente estadounidense, marcado por la avalancha informativa, el fracaso de los discursos políticos, los troles, la Nueva Derecha y la crisis de identidad del hombre blanco de clase media.
La crítica ha dicho...
«El libro más importante, hasta el momento, del escritor con más talento de su generación.»
Giles Harvey, The New York Times Magazine
«[Esta novela] busca llevar a sus lectores más allá de sus fronteras con su fértil inteligencia y un corazón todavía más exuberante.»
Garth Risk Hallberg, The New York Times Book Review
«Una novela de investigación intelectual estimulante, percepción social penetrante y profunda sensibilidad psicológica. En la medida en que podamos hablar de un futuro en el presente, creo que el futuro de la novela está aquí.»
«De una inteligencia feroz.»
Joumana Khatib, The New York Times Book Review
«Ben Lerner ha redefinido lo que significa para un escritor habitar el presente de Estados Unidos al mostrar cómo una familia reconoce su pasado. Aquí, lo personal y lo político están magistralmente conjugados.»
«Entre los incontables milagros de El instituto Topeka está haber logrado capturar y cuestionar tantas cosas sobre Estado Unidos en menos de trescientas páginas.»
Ron Charles, The Washington Post
«Un desafío intelectual profundo y vigorizante, una declaración política poderosa.»
The Guardian (UK)
«Profunda, [...] brillante y absolutamente contemporánea. Divertida y, a ratos, dolorosamente aguda...
Ein wunderbarer Roman über die Entstehung von Kunst, Liebe und Kindern im Abenddämmer eines Imperiums.
Der Held von Ben Lerners Roman ist ein Brooklyner Schriftsteller namens Ben, der einen frechen, von der Kritik gefeierten Erstling über sein junges Leben publiziert hat und nun auf größere Erfolge hoffen darf. Und in der Tat, zu Beginn sitzt er, den lukrativen Vertrag eines Großverlags unterschriftsreif vor sich, mit seiner Agentin in einem überteuerten Restaurant und verzehrt mit der gesalzenen Hand zu Tode massierte Baby-Oktopusse. So schmeckt also der Erfolg?
Etwas später, zurück in seinem weitaus nüchterneren Lebensalltag zwischen Food-Coop und Ausflügen mit einem mexikanischen Nachbarskind, sehen wir ihn zur Wurzelbehandlung beim Zahnarzt - und sodann beim Neurologen, denn der Zahnarzt hat auf dem Röntgenbild Verdächtiges gefunden: einen, so bleibt zu hoffen, gutartigen Gehirntumor.
Das lässt ihn viel über die Fragilität des menschlichen Lebens nachdenken, umso mehr, als seine alte Collegefreundin Alex ihm auf Spaziergängen durch den Prospect Park oder über die Manhattan Bridge erzählt, wie sehr sie sich von ihm ein Kind wünscht, aber in aller Freundschaft, also durch künstliche Befruchtung.
Dabei wird das Wetter immer schlechter, New York leidet unter Superstürmen, Stromausfällen und Überschwemmungen. Mit der Welt geht es bergab.
Was also tun, was wird die Zukunft bringen?
Ben Lerner beschreibt, gewitzt, lässig und mit einem brillanten Sinn für Komik, was es bedeutet, unsere sattsam bekannten Erste-Welt-Problemchen in den größeren sozialen Kontext des Lebens auf dem Planeten zu stellen. Dies ist ein Buch am Puls der modernen Zeit, doch wenn in einem bekannten Science-Fiction-Film um 22:04 Uhr der Blitz in die Rathausturmuhr einschlägt, geht es vielleicht doch noch befreit und mit neuer Hoffnung «Zurück in die Zukunft».