As a published journalist with many headlines to my credit, I was honored to be asked to join a prestigious book club recently. The group met in an urban-style coffee shop in the Fourth & Gill neighborhood of Knoxville and was presided over by a rather obnoxious woman with a stupid face.
Our novel that week was Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station. Ben is a northern-educated, 37-year old author who lives in the Brooklyn area of New York City. Everyone was excited about Lerner because he was supposed to amp up the intellectual decibel of our club.
The Barnes & Noble at Suburban Plaza had a copy so I found a quiet corner and began reading. I guess I was expecting to be floored away from the very first page. Maybe the sizzle of Melanie Harlow and the power of Nicholas Sparks all bundled together and punched out on steroids?
What I got instead was a flaccid, full frontal view of a very disturbed man. It was shocking and just outrageous. Ben’s whole life revolves around smoking hashish and masturbating in some attic. Can you imagine even putting that down on the page for everyone you know to see? I have no clue what was going through his head. His family must be so ashamed!
I hate to be mean, but I don’t think this writer has the sort of mad skills he thinks he has. It’s like he really, really wants to be famous with all these crazy long sentences and huge paragraphs. I guess it’s supposed to sound very smart? Honestly, I just didn’t get it. And I can’t imagine anyone else understanding the whole thing. It was just too weird.
I never bought that book. Halfway through, I stopped. I was too embarrassed to even put it back on the shelf. What if someone I knew saw me holding it and talked to me? So I left it on the floor of the computer programming section for some dork to trip over.
Googling online, I discovered that Ben also wrote a book called 10:04 about the Occupy Wall Street riots. One famous critic described it as an, “infamous socialist paean to out-of-wedlock childbirth.” I mean, is this sort of stuff really supposed to impress me? Come on! How could anyone write such nonsense when America is literally falling apart at the seams?
Fat-faced Cindy got upset with me and I got upset with her when we met again for book club and I walked out of that ugly little coffee shop and went to McDonalds after about ten minutes of all this superior chit chat that was probably just their attempt to humiliate me because they’re jealous of my career and the fact that I have my life together and they’re a bunch of skanks hanging out with the same wannabees I knew were trash all the way back in high school. Of course, they loooooooooooved the book.
This is what irritates me so much about guys like Ben Lerner and his little clique of hipster whores who pretend to understand his big novels with their weird art covers that don’t give you any idea what’s going to happen inside and it’s like they’re not even trying to make sense because they’re too busy being cool and it’s all about wearing black clothes and hanging out with guys who clearly have BO issues and you know what, I don’t even care anymore because I know you’re trash and your family is trash and don’t you dare post your fake “friendly” comments on my Facebook photos anymore because I know you talked about me behind my back, Cindy, and I know you hooked up with Jimmy K. in high school who, let’s be honest here, really looks like Big Ben with his glasses and turtleneck and wannabe attitude and you knew he was supposed to be my friend and maybe that’s the whole reason you tried to stuff this stupid reading group thing in my face so I’m not going to even get drawn into your drama anymore, okay?