"One thing just happens after another."
August 18, 2010 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Tao Lin will have the scallops.
posted by TheWash (40 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
"My face always looks bored or depressed. It's not an accurate impression."
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:24 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's an awful lot of work to say "Tao Lin writes like someone replaced all of the sex, drugs, and clothes in early Bret Easton Ellis novels with punctuation."
posted by adipocere at 10:24 AM on August 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


briank thinks "I would like those three minutes back."
posted by briank at 10:26 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tao Lin is an odd cultural anomaly. I saw a dude on the train wearing a Tao Lin t-shirt. It read "TAO LIN, 1983 - XXXX" and underneath had the names of his works, the years, and "[edit]" in the lower left hand corner. I can't think of any other contemporary author who I've seen in t-shirt form, much less a t-shirt that was clearly designed.
posted by griphus at 10:27 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have never heard of this person. I guess I was at NYU at the same time he was though.

If his writing is as unbearable to read as this interview was, I just don't get it.
posted by millipede at 10:31 AM on August 18, 2010


We are all Carles.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:34 AM on August 18, 2010


It's taken me awhile, but I've come around to his writing. A lot of what annoyed me about him had more to do with his internet personna than with his writing. But I see a lot of writers - including some people who I like a lot in real life - taking on similarly alienating internet personnae as self-promotional stunts. I guess I just have to accept that I'm too old to get it and move on.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:35 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Five minutes later The Observer said, "I am going to write a profile of you in your style."

Tao Lin said, "You should end it with a sentence like the one I'm saying now."


Sometimes things work out perfectly.
posted by Max Power at 10:37 AM on August 18, 2010


If I want alienation I'll read Murakami, kthx.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:38 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, if you want alienation, read Mishima. Murakami at least has a heart. (And a head.)
posted by cthuljew at 10:41 AM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


The colleague said, "That's awesome. You'll nail him. His writing is so terrible."

Magazine writers, or quasi-journalists, calling someone a terrible writer is ironic.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:44 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Raises the bar for insufferable story construction, a bar which was already plenty high.
posted by jbickers at 10:48 AM on August 18, 2010


Greg_Ace read the link and the comments, then added a comment of his own. Then he put down his drink, got up and left the room.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:50 AM on August 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


For whatever reason, it look me a lot longer to get through Lin's book of short stories than it did his novel. I really liked Eeee Eee Eeeee, but Bed was a little hit-or-miss for me.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:50 AM on August 18, 2010


If you want alliteration, you should read Beowulf.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:51 AM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you want Alien Nation, it's available on Netflix.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:51 AM on August 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


Although I don't particularly like Tao Lin (I've only read Eeeee Eee Eeee however), I'll always love this piece he did for The Stranger:

The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer Can Achieve in America
posted by fryman at 10:54 AM on August 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is Tao Lin sitting on a tray of wheat grass? No wonder people assume he's a vegan.
posted by contraption at 11:00 AM on August 18, 2010


That was awful, she thought.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:01 AM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Agreed in feeling conflicted over his 'on-line persona' as well as his style and the countless careless imitators. Everyone who tries to interview him ends up becoming infected by his style, or just deliberately aping it, always failing. Even as I think about how to express this, his style takes over. He's just like that, but there is something compelling to his writing over time, an interesting cadence takes over. Anyway, this is to say that an interview such as this is probably not the best material to introduce him to mefi (I see his publicity stunt/indie funding scheme was posted before). The most compelling piece I've read of his online was a flow chart he'd hand drawn for his traveling seminar on 'kmart realism' -- there's some other writing of his on the topic. No matter one's reaction to his fiction, he is clearly intelligent and well-read with a lot to say on the state of literature. I wish I could post that flow chart but I think he is still planning on doing things with the material, so hopefully there'll be more to come.

Otherwise, that said, if anyone has any doubts over Tao's fundamental competence and respectability, this piece, Only Connect, is perhaps my favourite thing I've read about poetry on the internet, period. It's all too easy to get caught up in the business of 'internet personas', which really is just guerilla marketing, but the man actually has something to say. He's pretty responsive to web discussion, maybe he'll show up.
posted by kaspen at 11:03 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


the business of 'internet personas', which really is just guerilla marketing

I try not to do this, but: quoted for truth.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:15 AM on August 18, 2010


filthy light thief thought "we discussed this guy before," and found that previous discussion, copied that URL and made a new hyperlink for others to reference.

When filthy light thief was reading the linked article and got to "The Observer asked Tao Lin if he had ever had one of his books optioned for film. Tao Lin said Eeeee Eee Eeeehe," filthy light thief thought "it would be awesome if the ridiculous veneer of Tao Lin cracked and shattered," but filthy light thief read on and thought "oh damn, that was just one of his weird book titles."

filthy light thief now realizes he should have chosen a shorter nickname if he wanted to write in third person.

I realize this is annoying, I will not do it any more.

The cover of Richard Yates is pretty amusing, in the use of a sea shell as a fleshy pink face being ripped open, but I think stunt posts are still stunty ("control what i will be wearing in the september 'nylon' photoshoot"). If you put a ridiculous poll option, the internet will always choose that option. And I hate the "notion" quotes. Overuse of them is like the overuse of profanity: it loses its impact and becomes obnoxious noise.

Along with the shirts like the one gripus saw him wearing, Tao Lin also makes 'charmingly innocent' cut-out art, with another obnoxious URL.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:17 AM on August 18, 2010


I saw Tao Lin at a reading for the forthcoming kickstarter-funded short story collection Coming & Crying, and he was a pretty nice guy. Also looked surprisingly good without a shirt on, for a writer.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 11:18 AM on August 18, 2010


The colleague said, "That's awesome. You'll nail him. His writing is so terrible."

Magazine writers, or quasi-journalists, calling someone a terrible writer is ironic.


I read that as the colleague giving writer a backhanded put-down. "Your writing is terrible, so you'll nail Tao with no problem.
posted by me3dia at 11:20 AM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


So I feel like I don't like Tao Lin's writing, but there is something compelling about it, and I keep reading more things by/about him. I think this seems a good entry point into the way he thinks, partially because it's not drenched with layers and layers of irony.
posted by overglow at 11:35 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with kaspen. People seem to think Tao Lin is easy to imitate, just by writing flatly or inserting ironic quotes, but their efforts usually fail, perhaps because they mistake a lack of affect for a lack of emotion. There's a great deal of emotion in Tao's work; it's just presented with complete dispassion. What he's doing, beyond the declarative sentences, is exposing the scaffolding of his thought process, how one small mundane emotion leads to another. He minutely records, in real time, the boredom and self-consciousness and second-guessing and I-am-a-fraud feelings that are present in a person's thought-stream--particularly a writer's thought-stream. Writing about how he feels becomes writing about how he thinks becomes writing about how he writes. That was one of the worst impersonations of him I've ever read, and it says something that it's so easy to fail doing something that looks so easy. Maybe it isn't easy after all.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 11:49 AM on August 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Is there a link anywhere that explains what the Richard Yates book is about?

I think this seems a good entry point into the way he thinks

Thanks. I remember the $2,000 per share post, but couldn't remember the writing. That's plenty to last another few years.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:53 AM on August 18, 2010


There's definitely a there there. And it's a good there and I like it and I want to see more of it. But with all his trying so hard not to look like he wants you to see him pointing to it, he ends up tripping over his own feet and trying to make it look like that's what he meant to do all along and that's not the there I'm here for. So.
posted by kipmanley at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2010


I haven't read any of Tao Lin's longer books; I kind of want to, just to see if they annoy me.

But he did write one of my favorite Internet Poems (a poem written by a bear, highly recommended) and I will always love him for that, even if his persona is so... affected.
posted by good day merlock at 11:58 AM on August 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm responding positively to these comments.
posted by Pants McCracky at 12:14 PM on August 18, 2010


gompa was ready to offhandedly bag on Tao Lin, but then he read fryman's link to Tao Lin's riff on "Levels of Greatness" and thought it was funny enough to hyperlink back to fryman's post about it and now all he can think about is how a gallery of lower-tier fiction authors' "I am very smart and this is my serious literature" headshots would be a pretty good "weird themed Tumblr."
posted by gompa at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2010


Do you ever wander into an FPP and think, "I'm just not hip enough to be here, and I should leave now?"

No? Just me?

Right, then.
posted by pineapple at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


No, pineapple, I don't think that - I'm absolutely certain of it most of the time!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:40 PM on August 18, 2010


You and me both., pineapple.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:42 PM on August 18, 2010


But he did write one of my favorite Internet Poems (a poem written by a bear, highly recommended) and I will always love him for that, even if his persona is so... affected.

Ok, that's pretty awesome. I guess I need to go track down some of his other stuff to read.
posted by juv3nal at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Observer said, "I'm going to write a profile of him in a parody of his style."

The colleague said, "That's awesome. You'll nail him. His writing is so terrible."


I lol'd.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The vegetable will have the steak, too.

Seriously, though, I kind of enjoyed that profile, but I read the paragraphs in reverse order, from last to first.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2010


Tao Lin must have gotten tired of baby watermelon.

Also, Tao Lin limns might be my new favorite tongue twister.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:42 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, if you want alienation, read Mishima. Murakami at least has a heart. (And a head.)

I know no-one has said he is, but just to be clear: Tao Lin is not Japanese.
posted by surenoproblem at 6:06 PM on August 18, 2010


I too have only read Eeeee Eee Eeee. I liked it. It reminded very strongly of an Icelandic writer, Gyrðir Elíasson, who similarly writes about depression in dispassionate prose and also features talking animals in some of his work. So reading Tao Lin for me is a bit different than for most, since I couldn't help but read him through the lense of Gyrðir's work. Eeeee Eee Eeee was good but flawed. There were bits that didn't really work, I thought, but the scenes never went on for too long and if I was getting bored something would happen that kept me going.
posted by Kattullus at 8:05 PM on August 18, 2010


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