Books

The Topeka School

The Topeka School is a novel by Ben Lerner.

Ben Lerner

Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of '97. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting "lost boys" to open up. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. He is one of the cool kids, ready to fight or, better, freestyle about fighting if it keeps his peers from thinking of him as weak. Adam is also one of the seniors who bring the loner Darren Eberheart — who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father's patient — into the social scene, to disastrous effect.

Deftly shifting perspectives and time periods, The Topeka School is the story of a family, its struggles and its strengths: Jane's reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan's marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a riveting prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the New Right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Ben Lerner is an American poet and novelist whose books include Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04.

Interviews with Ben Lerner

Ben Lerner found fame with his debut novel Leaving the Atocha Station. His follow-up, 10:04, is now out. Lerner's latest work is narrated by a fictional author who both is and is not the real writer. 23:25
Formerly a successful (but obscure) poet, Ben Lerner's first novel garnered a lot of attention, and a lot of praise. 52:42
English professor, novelist and poet Ben Lerner says even great poets are doomed to fail, because they yearn for the divine which cannot possibly be grasped. His book is called "The Hatred of Poetry." 14:42
English professor, novelist and poet Ben Lerner says even great poets are doomed to fail, because they yearn for the divine which cannot possibly be grasped. His book is called "The Hatred of Poetry." 14:42

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.