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I took the review of this book from the Times and thought it sounded like something i would generally enjoy reading. I found the book tedious and boring, and actually found myself wishing the % away on the kindle! Somehow i could not give up on it, but i felt as though i was endlessly waiting for either something to happen or some blinding insight about one (or any) of the (cold and unlikeable) characters. Full of accounts which go nowhere, self indulgent ramblings and endless text about smoking, drinking, taking tablets and telling lies. I am not sure what the point was to this novel. Inaccessible, utterly depressing and did little for me i am afraid. Maybe the author is a better poet than writer.
This book comes with extensive praise (within the front covers) from, among many others, Paul Auster and Jonathan Franzen. It starts well with a spectator in the Prado bursting into tears before one painting after another - a great experience of art, or a madman on the loose? Museum guards start to congregate...before the man walks out of the building. And the set-up is fine, of a poet on a scholarship to Madrid, reflecting on what makes for great experiences of art and life...But I found that the episodes did not build one on another, and although I found some of the earlier chapters mildly amusing, overall it became a bit tedious...and I would find it hard to recommend on the basis of my own experience to others. But of course other's experiences in reading this might be more like Paul Auster's or Jonathan Franzen's....
This book is written by a clever author, who, it seems to me, wants you to know how clever he is. I love Madrid, have lived a student life and ought to have been pleased with the detail and authentic Madrid feel of the novel, but I had a big problem. I really disliked the protagonist (you cannot call Adam a hero). It is not that he is a drug taking, self-indulgent American spending his country's money and that of his rich parents, unwisely (he is on a fellowship grant for poetry writing). It is that he is a compulsive liar who treats others with disdain. Part of the author's skill is that he makes you see Adam's friends through your own eyes, not Adam's and you realise what cultured and valuable people they are, but this only served to make me dislike Adam even more and I was glad when the book ended.
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben LernerI is a well contructed book, and interesting to a point, a bit too far back in time which now moves along so quickly, and of course, the reading gets a bit tiring with hash, drugs etc. and the plot in itself is not that exciting. However the poetry theme does carry you on to the end. Worth your while.