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Ben Lerner - Leaving the Atocha Station

Ben Lerner on his novel Leaving the Atocha Station about a young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid. With James Naughtie and a group of readers.

American author Ben Lerner talks about Leaving the Atocha Station, his first novel narrated by a young man living outside his usual experience.

Adam Gordon is a brilliant, if highly unreliable, young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art. Instead of following the dictates of his fellowship, Adam's 'research' becomes a meditation on the possibility of the genuine in the arts and beyond: are his relationships with the people he meets in Spain as fraudulent as he fears his poems are? Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader's projections? A witness to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and their aftermath, he needs to decide whether he participates in historic events or merely watch them pass him by.

Presented by James Naughtie and recorded with a group of readers asking the questions.

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