Ben Lerner, 10:04 & The Death Of “Silence”


I want to talk about the relationship between author and reader and what we mean by “reader”; the political potential of modern fiction; and the end of “silence” in modern art. These issues are all addressed – implicitly or explicitly – in Ben Lerner‘s recent novel, 10:04. His answers – even his willingness to ask new questions – mean that the novel is more than just a success. It is a quiet revolution, all the more effective for its humility.


The history of twentieth-century art is the history of diverse opposition. Form vs content; style vs substance; experimentation vs tradition; detail vs minimalism; outward vs inward; realism vs the avant-garde; sincerity vs irony. Anterior to these oppositions, from a literary perspective, are various assumption about how the writer should address the reader: giving or withholding, hospitable or hostile,

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