Literary Americans Abroad

Young literary Americans abroad, from Ernest Hemingway at the bullfights to novelist Ben Lerner right now.

The Atocha train station in Madrid, Spain. (lacasitosdechorizo/Flickr)

The Atocha train station in Madrid, Spain. (lacasitosdechorizo/Flickr)

“You are all a lost generation,” Gertrude Stein told Ernest Hemingway, the iconic young American abroad after World War I. Lost, maybe. But Hemingway’s American abroad was lost in bullfights and brawling. Spanish passion.

In his first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” 1926, his Americans are flawed, but American competence and power are unquestioned. Flash forward most of a century. A new voice of the young American abroad is speaking. And it’s a much more modest voice.

This hour, On Point: From Hemingway to our time, and Ben Lerner’s “Leaving the Atocha Station.”

-Tom Ashbrook


Ben Lerner, poet and novelist, his new new book is Leaving the Atocha Station.

Gary Sernovitz, a novelist, his review of Leaving The Atocha Station is here.

Steve Paul, arts editor at the Kansas City Star and an expert on Ernest Hemingway.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “In a book soaked in references to art and literature, there is no evident allusion to another short first novel centered on a young Midwesterner in Spain: “The Sun Also Rises,” published in 1926. Lerner’s novel could have the same epigraph as Ernest Hemingway’s — Gertrude Stein: “You are all a lost generation” — and both books remind us that if you are far from home, alienated from life’s clean meaning, unfulfilled in love, and have a lot of time on your hands, you can at least make the days pass by being stoned, drunk or both.”

The New Yorker “He may be aimless, but he has a poised intelligence, hospitable to paradox and dialectic, so that his “profound experience of the absence of profundity” becomes, for the reader, an engrossing inquiry into a man’s shallow depths; this short novel, in which nothing much happens, never feels like a longer one.”

Video: Midnight in Paris And Hemingway

Filmmaker Woody Allen parodied a young Ernest Hemingway in his 2011 film “Midnight in Paris.” Hemingway is played by the actor Corey Stoll.

Excerpt: Leaving The Atocha Station

[Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.]


Main theme The Sun Also Rises 1957
“And I was born” by The Lab

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