Our opinions on 10:04 were mixed, but that won’t stop us from recommending similar books to you! We’ll also pose some discussion questions you can use during your own book club or reading!
Ben Lerner is firstly a poet, so you have something very different than 10:04 to choose from. His second book Angle of Yaw was lauded as one of the most important poetry books of the 2000’s, so this might be a good place to start. If poetry is not your thing, than try Leaving the Atocha Station, his first novel, which deals with similar problems and alike characters.
An author whose writing is said to be similar to that of Lerner, and who’s even a contemporary, is Teju Cole. Born to Nigerian parents in Laos, he moved to New York City at age 17. He wrote two novels and is very active in the NY literary scene. We recommend Every Day is for the Thief, as it is also a semi-autobiographical novel with an unnamed author narrator. Let’s read it and count the similarities!
And then finally a big influence to Lerner and someone with very similar writing to 10:04. W.G. Sebald is a German author whose writing deals a lot with the second world war and its aftermath. Lerner looked closely at his works for 10:04, imitating the slow and elaborate writing and of course the images. Sebald quite a lot of books and his most read novel is Austerlitz. Even so, we recommend The Rings of Saturn as it has another unnamed narrator, because that’s just the kind of mood we’re in. It’s also the highest rated of his novels, but who cares about ratings.
If you’ve read any of these books or have any other recommendations, let us know in the comments!
Possible Discussion Questions
– Is the tone of this book sincere or is Lerner writing a parody of the NY literary scene? Could it be both?
– What is the line between the author and the narrator in this book?
– What did you think of the shifts perspective? What do they mean?
– Why did Lerner use images throughout the book?
– What is the importance of Back to the Future?
– How does 10:04 discuss the ‘worth’ of art?