Don’t be dissuaded by the arch premise of Ben Lerner’s fantastic second novel 10:04 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2014), in which the narrator Ben, a successful thirtysomething Brooklyn-based writer, receives a hefty advance to produce his second novel. This isn’t metafiction for metafiction’s sake; the novel isn’t interested in losing readers in the funhouse of postmodernism. Instead, Lerner creates a thoughtful, wandering account of art, time (as history and experience), the geopolitics of food, city living, Back to the Future, and parenthood in the 21st century, all of it tied together by a comic and surprisingly tender plot about the narrator agreeing to donate sperm for a friend’s intrauterine insemination.
Ben Lerner, 10:04. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2014). 256 pages.