April 23rd, 2012 / 1:36 pm

Tao Lin’s Buffer

Over at The Asian American Literary Review Vaman Tyrone X has written an essay about/review of Tao Lin’s recent books: Bed, Shoplifting from American Apparel, and Richard Yates. I enjoyed reading this essay partially because of this point below concerning Lin’s online activity and his writing, which I hadn’t really thought about before in this way. I think, before, I’d always read other critics conflate the two rather than separate them? Anyhow, see what you think.

He wrote an entire (and earnest) essay about Yates’ oeuvre four years before RY was published.[10]  Is it really okay to begrudge Lin the right to name his novel after an under-appreciated literary figure that clearly has meant something to him?  Or maybe it’s just a more admirable enterprise to protect a now-canonical realist author from Lin’s digital-fame grubbing?  The subtext to every sub-positive response to Lin’s work and accompanying personal brand seems to be twofold: (1) “I could write that.  I know how to not pile on subordinate clauses too” and (2) “I could become as famous as him if strangers bought shares in my future novels, enabling me to sit, consume kale, and coin acronyms on Twitter.”[11]  Fortunately, Lin’s fiction can exist apart from such criticisms because the Lin-ean frame—the megabytes of service he has performed deconstructing ‘Tao Lin,’[12] his style, and his infamy-inducing act[13]—acts as a helpful buffer, [emphasis mine -RC] letting Haley and Dakota wander safely in a traditional realist space without a self-consciously perspiratory narrator forcing them to confront the faults of their maker.

Have a read if you’re so inclined, and I hope all of you are having a lovely day. Take a break from the computer if you can and go for a walk sometime? It’s 60 degrees or so and sunny in Houston and I’m going to take my last class outside, I think.

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  1. Matthew Simmons

      Having trouble getting past the part where he calls Kevin “…particularly cloying.”

  2. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Ryan, I am doing so well, I am drafting the rules for a “Guess the Sports Headline” league. We’re gonna start it this football season. It’s a little chilly out here in Evanston, though.

  3. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Ryan, I am doing so well, I am drafting the rules for a “Guess the Sports Headline” league. We’re gonna start it this football season. It’s a little chilly out here in Evanston, though.

  4. Ryan Call

      fair enough; that bit didnt trouble me, but i see what youre saying and why.

  5. Ryan Call

      that sounds like a fun league. good luck! im glad youre doing well.

      soon enough it wont be so chilly though, i promise! im scared of the heat of the summer, so im enjoying spring while i can.

  6. Charles Dodd White

      I remember reading somewhere, I think it was in Rain Taxi, that he originally was going to call Richard Yates, Statutory Rape. Anyone know anything about that?

  7. Anonymous

      I haven’t seen many people “begrudge” Lin for titling his book “Richard Yates” in order to protect Yates’s legacy. That’s just silly. You really need to get out of your insular indie bubble if you think people are worried about Lin’s title impacting Yates’s legacy. People have “begrudged” him for using such an unimaginative title that does nothing whatsoever for the book. The idea that writing about a famous writer for four years makes such a title artistically feasible is even sillier.  “I’ve written about Mark Twain the last four years, and he’s one of my favorite writers, so my next book will be titled, ‘Mark Twain.'”

  8. leapsloth14

      Um, yeh, I think you missed tone on the Yates thing. Yates is the shit. Tao Lin is Tao Lin. I mean come on, People. 

  9. deadgod

      I’ve hung around riverboats for years, and I love the way river people talk, so I’m going to say my books were written by “Mark Twain”.

  10. Anonymous

      stopped reading at: And if Tao Lin has one gift, it is a biplanar ability to convince a generation of sincerity-starved young men and women to embrace his realist, single-entendre fiction while convincingly presenting himself as the inveterately hip jester of the online-spawned lit scene.

      next, please. 

  11. Brooks Sterritt

      that sounds like a helluva biplanar ability…..

  12. herocious

      Thanks for the link. I’ve read 2 Lin books: Yates & Shoplifting. My reviews are here: http://theopenend.com/indie-press-book-reviews/ for anyone interested. If I had to choose, Shoplifting seems more promising than Yates. I want to read his book with the dolphin-sound title next.

  13. Richard Grayson

      in the bottom of the eighth, it’s the bland leading the bland, 4-1, on Chapman’s homer