} else { It was dense, probably highly intellectual, and simply had little to no plot. And there. It's amazing how Lerner manages to write this novel through three different voices, his own as the character Adam Gordon, his father Jonathan, and his mother Jane. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting "lost boys" to open up. Ben Lerner is a favorite writer of mine, both his novels (Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04) and poetry (so far, all I've read is Angle of Yaw but I greatly admired and enjoyed it). They both work at the Foundation, a well-known psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. It's a complete pleasure to read Lerner experimenting with other minds and times, to watch his already profound talent blooming into new subjects, landscapes, and capacities. Lerner lives and teaches in Brooklyn. var aj_dim = 514839; ‘He began to feel less like he was delivering a speech and more like a speech was delivering him.’Read an extract from Ben Lerner’s latest novel, The Topeka School. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations, and is the author of the internationally acclaimed novels LEAVING THE ATOCHA STATION and 10:04, and an essay, THE HATRED OF POETRY. Adam is the main narrator but we also hear from his parents, Jonathan and Jane. Start by marking “The Topeka School” as Want to Read: Error rating book. He has published the poetry collections The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw (a finalist for the National Book Award), Mean Free Path and No Art as well as the essay The Hatred of Poetry. I personally adored Jane's first-person monologues and hope Lerner will on. I found Leaving the Atocha Station almost unbearable, and it appears this book shares the same main character. I counted three times where he used the word “prosody”. This is one of those books where the story is fabulous, but the execution and writing style aren't my cup of tea. The Topeka School felt a bit less showy style-wise, but more ambitious structurally and thematically, jumping between perspectives and time periods and dealing with big questions about politics, masculinity, guilt and family. When so many plot points converge with the reality of the author's life, it is hard to differentiate where fiction and confession converge and separate. Refresh and try again. The verbal style and personalities of Adam, Jonathan and Jane are sharply distinct, and it felt as if each wrote their own chapters. This book just did not work for me and if it wasn’t a book club book I might not have read it in its entirety. But there is a cracking good story here, told from the viewpoints of. Ben Lerner is the finest prose stylist currently working in America, with relatively few rivals. It’s the story of a family of high brow psychotherapists and their son who are associated with a famous mental health institute in Topeka, Kansas. The Author. There's also more momentum to this book - pushed forward by the central incident that is gradually revealed between chapters. We learn how they met and why their marriage is strained. He had some spectrum of mental disorder, probably both emotional and intellectual. Ben Lerner is one of the best (thought-provoking, form reinventing, intellectually insightful) writers of my generation and this might just be his best book yet. Occasionally I read a book at a funny time in my life – when there's a lot going on and I don't have as much mental RAM available as usual – and I don't feel equipped to review it properly. We’d love your help. Ben Lerner’s new book, “The Topeka School,” is an extraordinarily brilliant novel that’s also accessible to anyone yearning for illumination in our disputatious era. This book, for me, weirdly distills the same world I inhabited in the 1990s, yet saw from a completely different perspective. Like protagonist Adam, Ben Lerner grows up in Topeka Kansas with his parents who are both psychologists (his mother a published author with a fine reputation in women's issues), graduates in 1997, currently lives in Brooklyn, and is a professor of literature as well as a poet. It was dense, probably highly intellectual, and simply had little to no plot. I only know Ben and his family by reputation and shared acquaintances. if (window.innerWidth <= 600) { var aj_dim = 514841; } else if (window.innerWidth >= 1000) { The book seems harder than it is - all comes together fairly neatly, the call-backs and set-ups become more apparent, and there are few of the non-sequiturs that peppered Lerner's earlier work. The Topeka School opens with a brilliant set-piece scene. He is a 1997 graduate of Topeka High School, where he participated in debate and forensics, winning the 1997 National Forensic League National Tournament in International Extemporaneous Speaking. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting "lost boys" to open up. Ben Lerner is a favorite writer of mine, both his novels (. I knew no one at the "Foundation." How much of this narrative is his thinly veiled family? There were also vignettes (done in italics) of another young man who was a classmate of the son and also a patient at this same institute. How much is fabricated? Whilst there are some good moments in this, they are vastly outweighed by the sheer confusing tangle of webs and people and ideas all strung together with high brow language that makes the book a real drudge to try to plough through. This is one of those books where the story is fabulous, but the execution and writing style aren't my cup of tea. There is a sedate pace here that reminds me of Saul Bellow or John Cheever, with the massive ambition of re-capturing America of the 90's as a way to explain America now. This is my second Ben Lerner, my first having been the prize-winning 10:04, and I think my last. I have no freaking idea. Whilst there are some good moments in this, they are vastly outweighed by the sheer confusing tangle of webs and people and ideas all strung together with high brow language that makes the book a real drudge to try to plough through.