Ben Lerner’s novel Leaving the Atocha Station was one of my favorite books of 2012, as I mentioned on the NZ Listener’s blog. Thus I picked up his most recent novel 10:04 with great anticipation. Lerner, a poet, gained a huge amount of critical attention for Atocha Station, and 10:04 follows as a kind of metafiction/autobiographical novel. For example the author was a resident at the prestigious Chinati Foundation in Marfa Texas and the same thing occurs in the book. Yet Lerner especially loves to use frames within frames, a mise en abyme approach to writing that, however, pulls back from disorienting the reading unduly, using a readable style that often recalls early Paul Auster, more than say, Ben Marcus. In this way, Lerner often creates a deceptively compelling (non-)narrative, albeit one that takes temporality as its main theme, circling and weaving around various reoccurring themes, motifs, and cultural reference points (the film Back to the Future, the neo-conceptual videos of Christian Marclay, and the glacial monuments of Donald Judd). And Lerner is more empathic in his delineations of characters, even when barely sketched out, than darker NYC satirists (and critical favourites) like Sam Lipsyte. For more on Lerner, here's a recent interview from Bookforum magazine.