Ben Lerner‘s new novel 10:04 is a giant ball of string. Pull a dangling piece of it and a narrative starts to emerge, until it goes no further. Try another loose end…and find yourself starting over. Same story? Same story disguised as another story? Different story with same characters? Same characters from a different perspective? Back and forth it goes..with the narratives tangled up in there someplace. Will the narrator and his friend conceive a child? Will New York disappear beneath the growing waters of ever larger storms? Will the narrator get his novel written? Published?
What’s with 10:04? Remember the clock in Back to the Future? The movie is one of the threads that keeps snagging , as you try to unravel this interesting, frustrating, inventive, slow, complicated book, which Lerner says is “…on the very edge of fiction.”
A treat for the patient, tolerant reader. Frustration for those who like their strings without tangles.