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djf881
08-25-2010, 09:30 AM
This guy is deeply weird and experimental, and he's good at self-promoting and attracting media attention.

This guy seems to have achieved the goal of becoming a successful fiction author without actually knowing how to write. His prose is willfully flat, his books are nearly plotless, and people apparently love him to pieces.

Anyone familiar with this guy? Anyone have thoughts?

http://www.observer.com/2010/culture/tao-lin-will-have-scallops

http://gawker.com/5595952/an-account-of-being-arrested-for-trespassing-nyus-bookstore

http://chuckpalahniuk.net/interviews/authors/tao-lin

http://nymag.com/news/features/all-new/53358/

Eric Vincent
08-25-2010, 09:36 AM
Let him have his fifteen minutes.

kuwisdelu
08-25-2010, 09:49 AM
This guy seems to have achieved the goal of becoming a successful fiction author without actually knowing how to write. His prose is willfully flat, his books are nearly plotless, and people apparently love him to pieces.

Never heard of him. I have no problem with plotless as long as the writing is good. But I can't find any excerpts. Anyone have one for discussion?

djf881
08-25-2010, 10:29 AM
Never heard of him. I have no problem with plotless as long as the writing is good. But I can't find any excerpts. Anyone have one for discussion?

He wrote the essay at the Gawker link. The writing is not good. It is a minimalist style, but studded with adverbs and superfluous quotation marks.

kuwisdelu
08-25-2010, 10:57 AM
He wrote the essay at the Gawker link. The writing is not good. It is a minimalist style, but studded with adverbs and superfluous quotation marks.

Hmm. It was annoying, frustrating, and reflected the terminal boredom of a generation. I didn't particularly enjoy reading it, but it did seem to accomplish its goal of utterly reflecting the experience it was portraying.

kuwisdelu
08-25-2010, 11:00 AM
Found an excerpt:

http://www.hipsterrunoff.com/2009/09/shoplifting-from-american-apparel-by-tao-lin-exclusive-excerpt.html

Seems like a bad rip-off of Bret Easton Ellis crossed with Ryu Murakami.

Izz
08-25-2010, 02:58 PM
Found an excerpt:

http://www.hipsterrunoff.com/2009/09/shoplifting-from-american-apparel-by-tao-lin-exclusive-excerpt.html

Seems like a bad rip-off of Bret Easton Ellis crossed with Ryu Murakami.

What's with all the quotation marks?

Does the fact that he hopes i'm compelled to 'buy' his novel mean that he really doesn't want me to buy it? Or that he only wants me to buy it sarcastically? Or perhaps he wants me to steal his novel, which would make sense, given the title...

And why doesn't he believe in question marks?

ETA: oh, and in response to the OP: i have no issue with him. He's being post-modern. Whether or not he has a lasting impact on literature remains to be seen (i have my doubts). He reminds me somewhat of James Ellroy, except with less life.

ETA2: I've just read the thing he "wrote" for Gawker. Actually, i "read" the first "two" "sections" and could read no "further". Still, i have no "issue" with "him." He's an "interesting" "diversion" for a few "minutes."

seun
08-25-2010, 03:23 PM
"Wanker."

Dr.Gonzo
08-25-2010, 03:58 PM
Found an excerpt:

http://www.hipsterrunoff.com/2009/09/shoplifting-from-american-apparel-by-tao-lin-exclusive-excerpt.html

Seems like a bad rip-off of Bret Easton Ellis crossed with Ryu Murakami.

That was... awful. I've shat better 'prose' than that.

Phaeal
08-25-2010, 04:54 PM
Every generation has its "bad boy" "writer" who "embodies" the "zeitgeist" of "disaffected youth" and whose only "excellence" is in "self-promotion."

seun
08-25-2010, 05:07 PM
Every generation has its "bad boy" "writer" who "embodies" the "zeitgeist" of "disaffected youth" and whose only "excellence" is in "self-promotion."

That's what I said.

Phaeal
08-25-2010, 05:14 PM
That's what I said.

But "I" have "way more" "quotation" marks, hence "I" am "superior."

Greeble
08-25-2010, 05:18 PM
I tried to read it. It's not "good".
I thought, "Next!"

Susan Littlefield
08-25-2010, 06:45 PM
I did not like his writing either- very boring, very awful.

How did this dude get published? Even reporters from the Observer say that his writing is really bad. That's the last thing I would want anyone to say about my writing.

BenPanced
08-25-2010, 06:49 PM
ETA: oh, and in response to the OP: i have no issue with him. He's being post-modern.
Is that the same as "too damned preshus for his own good" or "annoying"? I found the Gawker article a cloying attempt at written performance art that failed.

folkchick
08-25-2010, 06:52 PM
There has to be some merit in what he is saying, or it wouldn't have gotten such attention. Having said that, I agree that his writing is just awful and no one should emulate it beyond an artistic standpoint. He is acting as a literary Warhol, but even Warhol had classic training.

djf881
08-25-2010, 07:37 PM
I did not like his writing either- very boring, very awful.

How did this dude get published? Even reporters from the Observer say that his writing is really bad. That's the last thing I would want anyone to say about my writing.

He publishes with a tiny indie press called Melville House. He got a $1000 advance for his upcoming novel "Richard Yates," and then he sold six 10% "shares" of his future royalties for $2,000 each, thus earning him an additional $12k for the book. Somebody else gave him a big anonymous donation for his art.

He also sells crap on ebay. His fans will pay $20 for a doodle napkin. He makes like $700 per month that way.

Enzo
08-25-2010, 07:41 PM
Wow. I wish I could do that, but I guess I'm too "conservative" and believe in writing some good stuff first.

LOG
08-25-2010, 09:57 PM
Make the repetition stop...

Phaeal
08-25-2010, 10:00 PM
Reread the sections of The Fountainhead about Lois Cook and Ike the Genius, and you'll understand this iteration of the scam. Although I'm not sure who's playing Ellsworth Toohey in this version -- maybe Tao Lin himself! Now there's his real accomplishment.

Eric Vincent
08-25-2010, 10:05 PM
This author better save his advance money, because this trick is rarely if ever repeated.

djf881
08-25-2010, 11:15 PM
As book critics will tend to be failed novelists themselves, they will have a tendency to gravitate towards mediocrity. There seems to be a bit of that in play here.

But this author better save his advance money, because this trick is rarely if ever repeated.

He's not necessarily garnering critical attention as much as press coverage for his stunts. A lot of the reviews of his books are very negative.

In some ways, he's more of a conceptual artist than an author, so the work isn't necessarily intended to stand on its own.

Izz
08-26-2010, 12:21 AM
Is that the same as "too damned preshus for his own good" or "annoying"? I found the Gawker article a cloying attempt at written performance art that failed.Yep. Pretty much.

LOG
08-26-2010, 12:54 AM
As book critics will tend to be failed novelists themselves, they will have a tendency to gravitate towards mediocrity.

Elaborate please?

Maxinquaye
08-26-2010, 01:04 AM
People misuse quotation marks.

Once the grocery shop wrote something like:

"Fresh" tomatoes - Only 19.95

I wondered why they were being ironic about the fresh part. I spent a good one minute trying to figure out if there was another ironicist working at the store that wanted to make a statement to the customers.

But they probably just used it for emphasis.

Zefiris
08-26-2010, 01:59 AM
Wow...I'm not usually one to criticise so I'll let this cat sum up my feelings on Tao Lin and his writing.

Take it away cat!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_RhoiX9HEM_o/SycwrY70BOI/AAAAAAAAA0E/QbA1K4ZQG0s/s400/angry_cat1-300x316.jpg

Susan Littlefield
08-26-2010, 05:15 AM
He publishes with a tiny indie press called Melville House. He got a $1000 advance for his upcoming novel "Richard Yates," and then he sold six 10% "shares" of his future royalties for $2,000 each, thus earning him an additional $12k for the book. Somebody else gave him a big anonymous donation for his art.

He also sells crap on ebay. His fans will pay $20 for a doodle napkin. He makes like $700 per month that way.

You know, I believe I've found a new lot in life.....:evil :roll:

Matera the Mad
08-26-2010, 08:09 AM
Oh yaaaaawn. Another marketing flash who writes like a sixth-grader and has an audience. Yaaawwwn. Nice weather we're having today.

jallenecs
08-26-2010, 08:19 AM
There has to be some merit in what he is saying, or it wouldn't have gotten such attention. Having said that, I agree that his writing is just awful and no one should emulate it beyond an artistic standpoint. He is acting as a literary Warhol, but even Warhol had classic training.

Don't kid yourself. The attention of the public does not equal merit. I can stand naked on the street corner and that would definitely get the attention of the public, at least until the police turned up. I'd probably even make the news. That doesn't mean that saggy boobs and a big butt exposed downtown is meritorious. It just means that I'm an attention whore or an exhibitionist.

This guy is doing the literary equivalent of the same damned thing: doing something out of the ordinary to get attention.

Noah Body
08-26-2010, 05:09 PM
"Wanker."

:D

android415
08-26-2010, 07:06 PM
So, shoot me, but I liked it.

It's a little hard to read, but I get the point. I like the point. Not the writing.

xizor98
08-26-2010, 07:43 PM
the whole of the excerpt is honestly nowhere near as bad as the responses would indicate. Yes the writing is terrible from a technical standpoint, but it's so terrible as to transcend somewhat into the realm of charming and refreshing. The whole thing is fairly amusing too, which I think is the entire point, so that has to count for something. I'm not sure I'd brave my way through an entire book written in this style but in small doses it could work.

Satori1977
08-26-2010, 07:53 PM
I have a headache now, and I couldn't even finish it. It makes me feel good about my own writing. Hell, my 7 year old writes more interesting stories.

Phaeal
08-26-2010, 10:10 PM
So, shoot me, but I liked it.

It's a little hard to read, but I get the point. I like the point. Not the writing.

What was the point?

smcc360
08-27-2010, 12:17 AM
Too hip for me. I never learned to read Ironic.

Tao Lin said, "It could be a sequel to [my novel] Richard Yates. Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning travel back in time to World War II and get put in a concentration camp. They need to find a missing part for their time machine to time-travel back to New Jersey. A science-fiction Holocaust thriller."

And now he's stealing my ideas!

djf881
08-27-2010, 12:55 AM
Too hip for me. I never learned to read Ironic.

Tao Lin said, "It could be a sequel to [my novel] Richard Yates. Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning travel back in time to World War II and get put in a concentration camp. They need to find a missing part for their time machine to time-travel back to New Jersey. A science-fiction Holocaust thriller."

And now he's stealing my ideas!

That was already an episode of Family Guy.

G.L. Douglas
08-27-2010, 08:46 AM
The first paragraph was as far as I got. It was like reading an outline.

IrishWristwatch
08-27-2010, 10:56 PM
"Wanker."

"Prick, Wanker..." -Hot fuzz

Smiling Ted
08-28-2010, 07:10 AM
There has to be some merit in what he is saying, or it wouldn't have gotten such attention. Having said that, I agree that his writing is just awful and no one should emulate it beyond an artistic standpoint. He is acting as a literary Warhol, but even Warhol had classic training.

If he had been 39 and overweight, you would never have heard of him.

myrmidon
08-28-2010, 09:01 AM
Well...he's been around for a while now...but whatever.

Anyway, I have a couple of his books. I liked the poetry, but the prose didn't work for me (and I sold it to The Strand) - too experimental for my tastes, too hard to connect with anything. What worked for me visually in the poetry lost me in the prose.

That said, I'm kind of surprised by the criticism here. We all have different tastes, yeah? It's what makes the world go round and all that.

It's not like he's getting Harry Potter-like money for his books or anything. More power to anyone who can figure out how to make a career out of this whole "writing thing" without getting to be J.K. Rowling as far as I'm concerned.

Willowmound
08-28-2010, 01:39 PM
So, shoot me, but I liked it.

It's a little hard to read, but I get the point. I like the point. Not the writing.

What was the point? I never got to the end, the writing was so bad.

...Which is why we try to not bore the reader, of course.

smcc360
08-29-2010, 12:46 AM
Anyway, I have a couple of his books. I liked the poetry, but the prose didn't work for me (and I sold it to The Strand) - too experimental for my tastes, too hard to connect with anything. What worked for me visually in the poetry lost me in the prose.

That said, I'm kind of surprised by the criticism here. We all have different tastes, yeah? It's what makes the world go round and all that.


Different tastes are the reason for the criticism. I find his style, be it a product of inability or affectation, less than compelling. Doesn't make him a bad writer; doesn't make me a big meanie.

Besides, a savvy self-promoter like Tao Lin should welcome criticism, because the other choices are indifference or acclaim. And, in my experience, the audience he's targeted has a habit of losing interest in artists who achieve mainstream acceptance. Were I he, I'd be praying for the haters (or 'h83rs', if you prefer) to descend upon me en masse.

Mr. Anonymous
08-29-2010, 01:12 AM
I agree with a couple other posters, I think the excerpt is nowhere near as bad as some are making it out to be. Granted, I did not read the whole thing, but I kind of liked what I did read.

And because I feel insecure in the face of so many opinions to the contrary, I will point out that a lot of critics like him too.

“Tao Lin's sly, forlorn, deadpan humor jumps off the page. […] will delight fans of everyone from Mark Twain to Michelle Tea.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

"Very funny."
—USA Today

"Trancelike and often hilarious… Lin's writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian…deliciously odd.”
—The Guardian

Willowmound
08-30-2010, 05:30 PM
"Lin's writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian…deliciously odd.”

I think he means the quotation marks.

inkspatters
08-30-2010, 05:37 PM
I thought it was okay. Not stunningly atrocious -- there was some poor writing, but I felt like the author was doing that intentionally.

Greeble
08-30-2010, 06:01 PM
I will point out that a lot of critics like him too.


Which just proves that there's no way of knowing what will be a success or not.

chocowrites
09-01-2010, 09:39 AM
I read a few serial poems by him (hamsters and whatnot, lawl) a while back. It was actually pretty good.

He definitely knows how to write, but is just doing some weird experimental thing with his prose.

BenPanced
09-01-2010, 09:46 AM
That said, I'm kind of surprised by the criticism here. We all have different tastes, yeah? It's what makes the world go round and all that.
Right, and I'm going to call crap when I see it. If I don't like his writing, why shouldn't I say so?

colealpaugh
09-02-2010, 01:13 AM
I dig Tao Lin. He's on a cool journey and I'm rooting for him.

Izz
09-02-2010, 01:15 AM
I "dig" Tao Lin. He's on a "cool" "journey" and I'm "rooting" for "him."There, fixed it for ya ;)

colealpaugh
09-02-2010, 01:40 AM
There, fixed it for ya ;)

I'd appreciate if you didn't "fix" my words, okay? Bash Tao, but please leave my words alone.

djf881
09-27-2010, 08:40 AM
Charles Bock's NYT review of "Richard Yates." Worth looking at.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/books/review/Bock-t.html?_r=1&nl=books&emc=booksupdateema3

fringle
09-27-2010, 10:14 AM
I don't think he's really trying to create literature. He's trying to get attention. It seems to be working. That being said, I've never heard of him.

night-flyer
09-27-2010, 10:41 AM
Hmm...never heard of him. I read the excerpt, I thought it was kind of interesting.
That being said, I couldn't read it all--it seemed to annoy me.

It seems to be working for him, for now. So, no, I don't have a problem with him.
I just probably won't be reading any more of his writing. I didn't see the point.