December 23rd, 2011 / 9:05 am
Web Hype

The Price of Revelation


This week, I read an article in the New York Observer that baffled, bothered and bewildered me. The article tells a story about Marie Calloway, a “part feminist, part fame whore,” young woman writer (pseudonymous) who e-mailed a much older Internet writer in New York she admired, told him she was coming to the city and wanted to sleep with him, slept with him, and wrote a 15,000 word “story, “Adrien Brody,” about the experience. None of that is necessarily shocking though some of the details (his relationship status, for example), make the assignation a bit sordid.

We are in the age of Internet confession. Have blog, will reveal, memoir, pixilated for a hundred random strangers to read. Or more. I wonder about the cost of confession these days, and the reach.

“Adrien Brody” held my interest in a prurient way. I wanted to know how the “story” would end. Anyone, and particular a woman, who has been that age can find something to relate to—admiring an older man (or woman), wanting to have a perfect, connected encounter, dealing with insecurity and anxiety, the inevitable disappointment. The story is definitely written in the “Tao Lin aesthetic,” the near obsessive chronicling of one’s (or a character’s) thoughts, emotions, motivations, and actions in a highly detached manner. I’m probably a decade too old to appreciate this literary style but it is a style and one that seems to have gained purchase with a certain audience. There’s an interesting vulnerability to this writing at times, but on the whole, it doesn’t feel like writing. It feels like a writer confessing to a mirror, transcribed e-mails included. I suppose that might be the point.

Mostly, I found “Adrien Brody” sad because people (all of us) are awkward. I cringe whenever I see young people doing things they will probably regret in 20 years. When you’re in your late thirties, you will too. It’s kind of inevitable. I was also uncomfortable. I now know there is man out there who will talk about Gramsci during sex and say ridiculous things to sleep with a much younger girl and who doesn’t read the books he says he reads. I know he has a girlfriend who keeps nail polish at his house and that he’s insecure. I know he disappointed Calloway and, in the end, treated her the way the other men she has slept with treated her. That feels like knowing too much. But I want to know! But I don’t! I do! I don’t!

The vulnerability of the writer sharing how she felt about the affair was readily apparent. There’s something to be said for the honesty in the “story.” But is the story honest? Or is it a deliberate performance in service of the “story”? It’s hard to say.  In the Observer article, Calloway said, “I wrote to express my worldview/subjectivity because it felt then that no one had any idea. I guess ultimately I wanted to connect with others in order to feel less alone.” I have no issue with that. Writers, and women writers in particular, have long written in deeply personal, explicit ways for any number of reasons from wanting connecting, to wanting to achieve some kind of fame to wanting to explore a certain aesthetic.

I don’t need to deliberate the literary merits of “Adrien Brody.” I don’t need to get into whether this is a feminist expression of a woman’s sexual experience. This story is what it is and we’re all going to take different things away from it. I do, however, think it would be interesting to have a conversation about the ethics of “Adrien Brody.” Calloway working through her “expression of subjectivity” affects people. There are consequences.

When you write personally and intimately, difficult questions arise. Whose stories do we, as writers, have the right to tell? To what extent do we have the right to write about the people in our lives? What are the limits of good taste? Do we have to consider good taste and ethics when it comes to writing from our lives? These are not new questions. I don’t know if they have answers but “Adrien Brody” certainly makes me think such questions are still worth discussing.

And there’s the pseudonym. Writing pseudonymously is seductive. You can say whatever you want without consequence because no one knows who you really are. That freedom makes it easy to be daring, to write openly or even transgressively. Some of my favorite writers do so pseudonymously. Marie Calloway wrote about her life and her desires and her attraction to this “Adrien Brody” writer as is her right but she did so behind the safety of a persona and did not afford the same courtesy to the man she writes about so intimately. His identity is thinly veiled, at best.  However flawed he may be, did he consent to being written about in this manner? And so publicly?  Would Calloway have written “Adrien Brody” if she had to use her given name?

More than that, I keep thinking about the girlfriend of this writer. His relationship is certainly not Calloway’s problem. If he doesn’t value the relationship enough to respect it’s boundaries that’s his failing. But. The girlfriend is still affected. Did Calloway consider that? This story is all over the Internet. The people who know this writer and his girlfriend, who also read this “story” know he cheated and how he cheated. Relationships overcome infidelity all the time but it seems like a vastly more uphill battle when the explicit details of an infidelity have been left in the hands of a narcissistic, exhibitionistic writer who doesn’t display the maturity to consider consequences, particularly those consequences for the people in her story without the shelter of a pseudonym.

Calloway recently deleted her blog, said she doesn’t like being watched. That’s not quite the impression she gives, though, through her confessional writing. She wants to be watched so long as she is in control of how she is watched. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to extend that courtesy to the other people she writes about or who might be affected by what she writes. That is revealing, too.

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  1. Bobby Dixon

      I read this and thought, it’s like reality-journalism. 

      I kept reading and getting really into this bit. I wanted to know how it ended, then got very mad at “Calloway recently deleted her blog, said she doesn’t like being watched.”

  2. Richard Grayson

      “I cringe whenever I see young people doing things they will probably regret in 20 years. When you’re in your late thirties, you will too.”

      Wait until you’re in your early sixties.  I am very glad that the Internet as we know it didn’t exist until I was in my forties, because I can understand the impulses behind what teens and early 20somethings are doing.  I’ve started self-publishing my diaries from when I was in my late teens and twenties, and they’re basically unreadable and tedious (the only ebook that sells any copies is my diary of my college experiences during the Kent State strike in May 1970, and I include stuff outside the diary, like newspaper articles I was reading), but they’re not that different from a lot of what’s online.  And I did stupid publicity stunts like getting the New York Post to write about my guilt about seeing prostitutes (“The John Hour”) although it was entirely fictional. 

      For a long time, probably because of my age and because that’s what I and other “confessional writers” used to do, I assumed young writers were employing personas on their blogs.  Years ago, a friend my age said of Tao Lin’s early blog, “What’s remarkable is that he never breaks character.”
      Anyway, when it’s 40 years ago and a different time, you tend to give young people, even yourself, more slack.  This will all look different in 2050.

      The most surprising thing to me is how the Observer, Gawker, etc., are preserving the anonymity of the older writer, as if they were observing the print and broadcast media’s blackout of the names of rape victims.

  3. Anonymous

      the “power’ in all of this, whether feminist or not, is her NOT caring, or not caring enough, what she will think when she’s older [no dobut she was ‘warned’ by older people not to do this and didn’t care]. and more power to her–future regret seems like a pretty bad reason not to do something [excepting the hurting of third parties. the ‘girlfriend’ part of this is likely regretable].

  4. Justin Taylor

      Roxane, I’m onboard with a lot of what you’re saying here, but the topic sentence of graf 6 confuses me–why *don’t* you feel the need to consider the piece’s literary merits? It seems to me that an aesthetic/thematic or otherwise “literary” assessment of MC’s work is the ideal way to free yourself as reader/critic from all the gossipy nonsense (some courted, some foisted) that has come to surround the piece. Let’s accept the belatedly applied “fiction” tag as if it had been there from the get-go, and as if the New Inquiry weren’t the recent subject of a Times profile. What does that leave us with?

      At first glance, a fairly standard piece of writing of the Muumuu-school: Aestheticized flatness of voice, celebrity name-substitution, the foregrounding of digital technologies of communication, the insistent–almost ritualistic–presentation of minute (or just mundane) details and conversations that almost any other writer would have chosen to compress to representative episodes or else cut entirely–the point of this last seemingly meant to reproduce at the level of text/structure the halting, aimless sense felt by characters who are uncertain whether existence itself is or can be meaningful but who also–crucially–aren’t that interested in finding out.

      But of course no text is standard. MC’s work distinguishes itself from the rest of the school in a few ways– 1) She writes graphically about sex, apparently absent the self-preserving irony of, say, Lin’s “Sex After Not Seeing Each Other for a Few Days.” 2) She doesn’t claim to reject emotional or figurative language–as some of the Muumuu’s have done (or anyway have tried to do). 3) She tends to write long. There’s absolutely nothing this story has to say that couldn’t have been said better at 1/3 or 1/5 of its present length. Granted, publishing it this way does help establish the feeling of it as a piece of confessional writing, and the text itself as a kind of info dump, which if it was actually fiction would have been a kind of interesting–anyway daring–way to achieve verisimilitude.

  5. c2k

      From the NY Observer article, first “sample”:

      We laid side by side.

      I stopped right there.

  6. Kreaykwon

      “This isn’t ripe. I didn’t even want it, I just felt like stealing an avocado.”ah shit

  7. Roxane

      Good question. Mostly I don’t feel the need because I was primarily interested in the contradiction of not wanting to be watched versus writing such a story. I was approaching this in a focused manner. I also don’t know what I could say about the literary merits. I struggle with this style and until I have something more substantive to say than “I don’t get it,” Im focusing on what I do get.

  8. c2k

      Reading the “sample,” that is.

  9. c2k

      Interesting perspective.

  10. c2k

      a scholar of Internet micro-celebrity

  11. Michael

      Awful writing. How many times does she use “laid”? Love how she tells the world that she took her boyfriend’s virginity–the guy who “paid for everything.” Poor kid.  

  12. William VanDenBerg

      “To what extent do we have the right to write about the people in our lives?”  In this case I think the question is moot — “Adrien Brody” should have known what was coming.  He gave his blessing for her to write about the affair (not that she necessarily needed it but, whatever, it’s there), and given her previous writing, he shouldn’t have been shocked by the piece.   

      There’s a part of me that thinks she’s blameless because of her age — she is young, inexperienced, uninterested in consequences. Her mistakes – if we agree to call them that – are inevitable.  Criticizing the narcissism and carelessness of youth is like critiquing the ethics of rain.  It’s an oversimplification, but I think there’s something in it.

      But then I think it might be all cool because of this wonderful line:

      “But he just said, ‘Do you need to eat something?’ 
      ‘Okay,’ I said, unsure of how to turn that around.”

      And I have to remind myself that art doesn’t justify ethics.

  13. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      “I ate the candy and kissed him.”
      i saw pieces of this when tao lin posted pieces of this to tao lin’s tumblr. i read parts of it. shrugged. read something else

      “Technical point: You cannot say ‘to lay down’ unless you mean to copulate with feathers. You must learn lay from lie before you can graduate. (In addition to the swim test there will be a lay detector test.)”
      from _anagrams_ by lorrie moore.

      i reread “adrien brody” after it became a thing in the news. i reread “adrian brody” telling myself tao lin was responsible for it. it became more exciting to read “adrein brody” after thinking tao lin wrote “adrien brodie.”

      shirley the momus stuff in calloway’s story was the big tits. remember momus? i first heard momus after mistyping matmos. 

      “adream brobro” was compelling. maybe a little long. 

      i know nothing about feminism so i can’t say it is or isn’t a feminist story. 

      if the author actually ducked after the attention i feel cheated for liking whatever sincerity i first found in it. now it’s like campus socialists at the university of maryland speaking for the proletariate in tibet. or. how about, like trust-fund punks playing crust punk songs about catching out to a more hip hooverville. or. like “adrien brody.” just joking. “we’re not joking.”

      i’m not turned off by the grammar or the spelling mistakes or the poor editing. i misspell my poor grammar all over the place. and not with a roggenbuck wink.

      “Adrien Brody” tells a story. It kept me captivated. End of my story.

  14. goner

      ‘…I wanted to connect with others in order to feel less alone.”

      Where did this come from? How come I feel like every young writer in
      his/her 20s now uses this line at some point–‘it makes me feel less
      alone.’ Was this some sort of David Foster Wallace thing that every kid
      is now appropriating as their own little inner turmoil? Or was it a Tao Lin thing? I mean I
      get that loneliness is one of the Major Themes that young writers love,
      love, love to write about, but come on now son. 

  15. joe

      Anyone can and has written anything they want.

      Can we all go home now?

  16. c2k

      It’s a very juvenile sentiment. The preceeding sentence, more so. (“I wrote to express my worldview/subjectivity because it felt then that no one had any idea.”)

  17. c2k

      Sorry. This was in reply to Goner above.

      ‘…I wanted to connect with others in order to feel less alone.”

      Where did this come from? How come I feel like every young writer in
      his/her 20s now uses this line at some point–‘it makes me feel less
      alone.’ Was this some sort of David Foster Wallace thing that every kid
      is now appropriating as their own little inner turmoil? Or was it a Tao Lin thing? I mean I get that loneliness is one of the Major Themes that young writers love,
      love, love to write about, but come on now son.

  18. Bobby Dixon

      I can relate to both of those comments. The contradiction in this piece, which is, “check out what I did in the real world w/ another real world human being” vs. “stop looking at my pseudonym, ” is kinda dicey. It’s kind of like, which aspect of MC is breaking character?

      I am fairly sure that I am older than all of the Muumuu crew, but I never found it hard to “get” their “style,” which feels rather straight forward, surface-level deep. It’s almost as if, they are highlighting *that* they are doing something, not as much as *what* they are doing. Maybe? And also, I kind of don’t care if I “get it” if it’s something I enjoyed reading, and I have enjoyed some of the Muumuu crew’s work. 

  19. Michael

      Trust me, there’s absolutely nothing feminist about this story at all.  It’s about as feminist as a Kat Stacks Worldstarhiphop video. 

  20. marshall

      nazi punks fuck off

  21. marshall

      shut your fucking mouth about kat stax

  22. Gus Guest

      Can someone spare me the internet rabbit hole and just tell me who it is?

  23. Michael

      Are you mad that she was deported?

  24. sigh

      here is my old man rant, but when did the indie lit world turn into some internet version of the right wing echo chamber? 
      This is 100% a non-story. Confessional sex writing is done in an infinite number of blogs and undergrad sex columns. Nothing scandalous happened here–yes some dude cheated on his girlfriend, which is bad, but hardly a story. No one remotely relevant was involved. Two more or less unknown writers had sex. 

      So why are we even talking about it? Well, because the indie lit echo chamber pumps out the story, various arms of it shouting back and forth at each other. Thought Catalog, MuuMuu House, New York Observer, htmlgiant, all working desperately to convince us that this completely uninteresting non-event of two nobodies fucking is somehow important. 

      I don’t mean to direct this comment at Roxane Gay, this just happens to be the latest echo in the chamber. But this whole thing is about one dust mite leg width above a tabloid baby bump scandal story. 

      The emperor doesn’t only have no clothing, he has an unremarkable body and a boring penis. Give it up. 



  26. Samantha

      Not surprised that this person turned out to be a coward when confronted with the implications of her work.

  27. James Yeh

      The idea that they are highlighting that they are doing something, as opposed to what, is a kind of brilliant insight, Bobby.

  28. sigh

      Someone you’ve never heard of yet the NY Observer calls the “superego of the internet” to pretend the story matters. 

  29. sigh

      Oh I forgot to mention Gawker, as if the tabloid non-storiness of this needed more evidence. Gawker had the most intelligent writing of any of these too, which is saying something. 

  30. Anonymous

      how could anyone write what they want this is whats wrong with the country and the whole thing might blow

  31. James Yeh

      Um, maybe it’s just a thing people honestly feel?

  32. James Yeh

      What’s a mature statement, then, to explain why you write?

  33. puhleaze

      Pretty sure it is actually a corny non-thought by people with nothing to say. 

  34. sigh

      Obviously it is about highlighting THAT they are doing something, because all these people have to offer is the cheap thrill of letting other people know they have had sex or do drugs. No insight or anything else to offer. 

  35. tao lin

      i like your comment, thank you for posting it

  36. Ms. Grundy

      Love the Lorrie Moore quote (Anagrams is a favorite novel of mine), but, to quibble just as much as she does, one can in fact say “to lay down” if one is using lay transitively. Lay down your weary tune, lay down some tracks, etc., etc.

  37. Argblargablarg

      pro tip: the button that says “like” below the post allows you to “like” a comment if you have nothing to say except that you “like” a comment. 

  38. tao lin

      wanting to feel less alone is a ‘corny non-thought by people with nothing to say’

      can you elaborate? interested in why you think that

  39. James Yeh

      that’s a pretty broad generalization. “no insight or anything else to offer”? have you even read the piece?

  40. barry

      he also gave thanks, is there a thank button, asshole…

  41. postitbreakup

      I really like your summation of the Muumuu style in the second paragraph.

  42. c2k

      The motivation to connect or to communicate is reasonable enough – when it comes to Why I Write. But re the last part: “in order to feel less alone.” If you’re writing to connect to feel less alone, well, that’s either juvenile or a poorly formed thought or someting worse. In any event, no writer is ever going to feel less alone by writing and publishing – if he or she is indeed a lonely person. It’s ridiculous. The preceeding sentence is the sentiment of an adolescent: no one knows how I feel, no one has ever experienced what I’m going through, etc. etc.

  43. Argblargablarg

      That’s all you got? 

  44. postitbreakup

      I think it’s this, but the most famous articulation of it, IMO, was DFW’s.

  45. Argblargablarg

      pro-tip #2: the “reply” button below a post allows you to reply to a post directly instead of later in the thread. 

  46. James Yeh

      Also, I would argue that someone feeling compelled to “highlight” THAT they are “doing something”–as opposed to its opposite, which would be something like “remaining inert”–is a kind of life-affirming and, because of that, beautiful thing. If not beautiful, in and of itself, then certainly having the potential for such beauty.

  47. barry

      thats all your pettiness requires…

  48. postitbreakup

      I have been wondering about this, too, Roxane. I’ve been considering writing a fictionalized memoir about my suicide attempt/time in the hospital and everything that surrounded it, but I know the depictions of my parents would hurt them, and if I wanted to talk about the relationship that predicated a lot of the suicidality, that person would be hurt, too. So I feel guilty and think that if I do write it, I should keep it secret. But I also have the drive to be published, and delusions of grandeur about it maybe helping some other depressed/borderline person out there. Yet I see no way to write about all of that without including the specifics. So I go in circles and haven’t written anything.

      It’s an odd situation, because while I’m keeping things secret to avoid hurting anyone, I simultaneously greatly resent the people whose secrets I’m keeping because of the silence they’re imposing on me.

  49. Michael

      For me, the “lay/lie” issue is bothersome because it’s often unnecessary and/or there are better verbs to describe the action. 

      And since we’re discussing her writing, the dialogue is horrendous and uninteresting.  Look:

      So I moaned, “I want you to fuck me.” 
      He laughed. I couldn’t believe it.“I can’t do it if you’re going to laugh at me.I thought then how it’s really unfair how men want and expect you to be really slutty and wild in bed, but they then laugh at you for it. You’re either frigid and boring or you’re unintentionally funny and crazy.“I’m laughing but it’s also making me hard.”

      There is no tension or “iceberg” here–both characters speak directly to the conflict in exposition between quotation marks. The lines are interchangeable, even though one speaker is a teenager and the other is middle-aged. 

      Seriously, I’m so glad the Internet wasn’t a big deal when I was writing my Jim Morrison-inspired poetry in Moleskine journals. 

  50. Argblargablarg

      I think I need to give a pro-tip about ellipsis use. 

  51. lorian long


  52. sigh.

      I’ve read a few pieces by her and others on I’–whoops I mean Thought Catalog–and did not notice any kind of unique insight or fresh language or anything else that would lead me back. 

  53. Frank Tas, the Yuletide Raptor

      Really enjoyed the piece. A lot. Since when does the phrase “Honesty is the best policy” have limits?

  54. James Yeh

      No offense, but I’m pretty sure Tao would own you in “pro-tips,” argblargablarg…

  55. Karim Kazemi

      Roxane, I felt like you have provided us with the most objective commentary on the “Adrien Brody” story yet.

  56. James Yeh

      So what’s something that’s not?

  57. barry

      that would be awesome. we can swap lectures. you give me the run-down on punctuation and i’ll give you the lesson on the ineffectiveness of using “i think” in first person narration or in life in general. 

  58. Argblargablarg

      Is James Yeh Tao Lin’s lawyer? Mr. Yeh seems to be working overtime to kiss his client’s supple behind today. 

  59. James Yeh

      I appreciate your more sincere engagement of the question. Still, I’m curious: why is writing to “feel less alone” juvenile? If one is writing to *be* less alone, then sure: that’s immature, and although understandable, a bit delusional.

      But that’s not what she said. Writing to “feel less alone” seems actually pretty possible, if not guaranteed. People often *feel* less alone when writing something, or performing really any kind of task, such as exercising or even eating a meal, in that they are focusing their mind on something constructive and outside of themselves, as opposed to focusing on the fact they are feeling alone. And if the story ends up getting published, well, you then have interactions with the editor who accepts the piece, then the possible copy editor, then the people (as few as they may be) who happen to read the piece and decide to email you or mention your story, your friends/acquaintances who you might tell or email about the story… Of course this doesn’t alleviate loneliness if you are “indeed a lonely person,” but you will, if even momentarily, “feel less alone…”

      It seems pretty concrete and provable, actually.

  60. James Yeh

      Pro bono for the shit I like, bitch.

  61. James Yeh

      “Fresh language”–now that’s a corny thought.

  62. Michael

      I’m pretty sure James Yeh has some sort of program that alerts him whenever someone talks poorly about Tao Lin and other MH writers. 

  63. c2k

      Happy holidays, James Yeh.

  64. Argblargablarg

      Charming misogyny. 

  65. James Yeh

      It’s called “Google Alerts,” Michael. But no, I don’t have it for when someone shit-talks Tao or any MH writers. Frankly, it would be exhausting.

  66. James Yeh

      And happy holidays to you, c2k.

  67. Michael

      “1) I think there are actually a lot of merits to the original story “Adrien Brody”


      You have got to be kidding me. To reecho “Sigh,” it’s amazing we’re even discussing a “story” that’s interchangeable with a billion throwaway undergrad workshop drafts. Do you some of you have any taste whatsoever? 

  68. James Yeh

      So sue me: I did it for the alliteration.

  69. James Yeh

      Well, first of all, I don’t think there is an objective
      measure in which we can determine the value of a story, or any truly honest one,
      to say, objectively what is good and bad or what is, in your words,
      “interchangeable” and, I suppose, “non-interchangeable.” (“Original?”
      “Essential”? All slightly problematic terms, I think.) Art is beautiful, and worthwhile,
      I would suggest, because it is just that: subjective. You find the story everyone
      agrees on is “good,” whether it’s in a workshop, or in the Norton
      Anthology of whatever, and you’ve found the story nobody’s going to really give
      a shit about two weeks from now, when they’re working their shitty job, or arguing
      with their parents, or boyfriend, or whatever. And you can ask smart people
      (much smarter than me) in smart places (much smarter than here) and they’d probably
      tell you something similar.


      Interchangeable or not, I would like to reiterate here, that
      almost all of the conversation about Marie Calloway’s work has centered, not on
      the actual story, but the backstory.


      And can I say this last bit? No offense, but your
      philosophical stance on art is pretty suffocating, if all you honestly feel
      things are “interchangeable.”


  70. James Yeh

      Also, based on a couple things, I presumed you are male. My comment would have been different if I perceived you were female.

  71. James Yeh

      Well, first of all, I don’t necessarily subscribe to an objective measure by which we can determine the value of a story, or any truly honest one,
      to say, objectively what is good and bad or what is, in your words, “interchangeable” and, I suppose, “non-interchangeable.” (“Original?”
      “Essential”? All slightly problematic terms.) Art is beautiful, and worthwhile, I think, because it is just that: subjective. Which is the pretty opposed to the idea of “interchangeable.” You find the story everyone agrees on is “good,” whether it’s in a workshop, or in the Norton Anthology of whatever, and you’ve found the story nobody’s going to really give a shit about two weeks from now, when they’re working their soul-sucking job, or arguing with their parents, or ex-husband, or whatever. And you can ask smart people (much smarter than me) in smart places (much smarter than here) and they’d probably tell you something similar.

      Interchangeable or not, I would like to reiterate here, that almost all of the conversation about Marie Calloway’s work has centered, not on the actual story, but the backstory.

      And can I say this last bit? No offense, but your philosophical stance on art is pretty suffocating, if all you honestly feel things can be “interchangeable.”

  72. Michael

      I’m not sure what any of this is supposed to mean. I used “interchangeable” to describe the story’s unoriginality as a whole and in specific spots. How does that indicate a “suffocating position on art”? So, you mean, I don’t like dull, lifeless writing and that makes me “suffocating”? 

  73. Michael

      I wrote a post above about the terrible dialogue. 

      The prose is dull and dead–to call it “deadpan” is an insult to writers who do deadpan well. 

      The sex is described in the most achingly boring language possible not because the writer is “deadpan,” but because she has no imagination like other writers in her particular cohort who use “deadpan” to mask their inability to write imaginatively. 

      I could go on, but it’s really not worth it–continue to be easily impressed with any turd that’s floated before your face and shout down all criticism with lame, “it’s-all-subjective, art-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder” BS. 

      Merry Christmas, ho-ho!

  74. James Yeh

      In a word, yes.

      But don’t take my word on it: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” So says John Cage at least.

      You can find other less explicit evidence of a generosity of attention in art in countless examples, too numerous to name here. Eight-hour films, nine-hundred page five-part novels, fifty-page essays on “get well” letters written by second graders, and so on. Art is, I think, careful attention to the things that are generally left unnoticed or viewed as “dull” or “lifeless.” Some people–Republicans, I suppose–would say this conversation itself is a dull and lifeless… (Although, in this rare case, they might be right!)

  75. Michael

      LOL, are you serious with this stuff? Way to state the obvious. Of course art is most often about everyday experience. So what? 

  76. Bobby Dixon

      Yes. Totally. 

      “Today I woke up and was alive.”

      Very mundane statement. But a fucking profound one to make every day.

  77. James Yeh

      Or maybe it’s because she just felt there weren’t adequate words to describe what she wished to describe? Or maybe she wasn’t necessarily as interested in the language as in the thing she wished to evoke in the reader?

      It must be nice to feel so decisive, and right all the time.

      I’m not championing this as some kind of achievement of the most sublime art, mostly for the reasons above–just because I like something doesn’t mean I think others ought to, too. But what I am championing for is a kind of sincerity in people’s engagement (and subsequent commenting) about this piece, which, in general, has struck me as reactive, unfair, and stiff, if not dishonest.

      Thanks for the holiday wishes. Back atcha.

  78. Michael

      Honestly, are you just hoping she’ll send you a “let’s fuck” email after reading your comments here? 

  79. James Yeh

      Honestly, and I really want to know, what is your life like and why is it you are living it in this way?

  80. Michael

      My life is fine. I don’t have to run around kissing asses 24/7 to get published. 

  81. James Yeh

      That you would see my comments on this thread as a means to achieving sex or publication says more about you than me.

  82. Michael

      I find it funny that you would question my lack of a life on a thread about a writer who pimped herself out to a writer twice her age and wrote about the money shot who landed on her face. 

  83. James Yeh

      In reply to: (which is, absurdly, unrepliable, due to the amount of previous replies)

      Well, I apologize if I seemed to imply, through my question, that you “don’t have a life.” I am, obviously and possibly shamefully, spending my time right now in a similar fashion. We make the decisions we make.

      That said, I would actually say writing 15,000 words about getting a “moneyshot” on your face from a person twice your age you have just met in a hotel room is, in a way, evidence of a sort of interesting life, of a compelling, possibly unhinged person.

      Clearly you disagree with that, and I find that stance suffocating. You find it unproblematic and accuse me of seeking to ingratiate myself for sex and publishing, which, in turn, I find unproblematic: for if I was seeking either of those things, I certainly wouldn’t be using this as the means of achieving it. Write a good enough story and live a good enough life and, in a roundabout way, you will probably get both of those things. This isn’t about that. The end.

      Happy holidays.

  84. Huh

      You find it “suffocating” that one person on the internet doesn’t like a sex story? Methinks the lady doth protest too much…

  85. James Yeh

      I mean suffocating for Michael, not me. I will be able to breathe just fine later.

  86. Michael

      It bothers me that you (or anyone else) would consider this scenario remotely compelling–a young girl desperate for attention and validation solicits a random, married writer twice her age in a position of relative authority for sex, he cums on her face (easily one of the most degrading sexual acts, and one heavily influenced by porn culture), she writes about it in awful prose that’s borderline pornographic, and you manage to find something redeemable from it all. And the kicker? You want to admonish people on the thread for “piling on.” Unbelievable. I’m actually creeped out by your rationalizations. 

      Happy holidays. 

  87. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      benna lies down the law.

      i wrote in the _anagrams_ quote because after reading the _anagrams_ quote i kept seeing (thinking about) the words lie/lay/laid in _anagrams_. 
      same thing happened after i read ? response to “adrien brody” (complaining about laid). i kept reading laid laid laid laid laid in “adrien brody” and kept thinking about laid laid laid laid laid.
      funny how when people tell us to pay attention we might actually start paying attention. and There was part of my point: tao lin said pay attention. and we all paid attention. to a point. 

      and now. whenever i watch _the pianist_ i won’t be able to not see adrien brody coming on tao lin’s face.
      i’ll feel lonely. and i’ll write you a lonely blog post telling you all how lonely i feel. no one will pay attention. 
      it’s too bad about the internet and all us pseudo intellectuals confessing.   

  88. deadgod

      That “contradiction” is compelling, and the way you conclude your piece with it as a twist, turning back to the source of your having been “bothered”, makes clear why you felt “baffled”, but I wonder if the effect wouldn’t have been sharper – and the meditation less wandering, though not less thoughtful – , had you led with the contrast between “Calloway” publishing her account and (as publicly) pseudo-dumping it.  (I didn’t know anything about these, eh, events ’til I read your blogicle; maybe everyone else here did?)

  89. lorian long

      ‘easily one of the most degrading sexual acts’

      girl, you have no idea.

      listen yall, this kind of shit happens on the regular. my ‘problem’ with it is that it’s a boring story about boring sex, and if the ‘boringness’ of it all is supposed to be the artistic merit or whatever, then gag me with a boring dick and allow me to puke it up in some editor’s gaping asshole while they stare out the hotel window.

  90. Michael

      I’m not a girl, but let me ask the ladies this: how many of y’all actually like a guy blowing his load all in your face? 

      (agree w/ your points about “boring sex”).

      Let me be clear: a writer can get away with anything with good style. 

  91. Anonymous

      “Would Calloway have written “Adrien Brody” if she had to use her given name?”
      There are pics of her on her blog and the Observer article. I get that she is using a pseudonym but she’s not exactly anonymous. I’d say her writing puts herself at risk every bit if not more than her subjects. It’s brave writing, is my point.

      Anyway, the story is fascinating. All this focus on internet fame, twenty-something insecurities, and self-exhibition sort of misses the point. It’s a good short story because it is a compelling read. People can snark and snipe about the elegance of her writing, but I am certain 99.99999999% of said people wouldn’t be able to write a story anyone would read past the first paragraph.

      It’s actually a shame she took down the blog because much of it was fascinating in both prurient and non-prurient ways. She has a pretty damn unique perspective which I won’t describe at length here but suffice it to say that to condescend and write her off as some kind of typical, twenty-something, facebook generation, fame-whore is to reveal a lot more about one’s own insecurities and shallowness than to comment on her. 

      Last sentence felt clunky. Does it read clunky?

  92. lorian long

      dude yr missing the point. sure, ‘moneyshots’ can be degrading, sometimes that’s the appeal, but yr hyperfeminist response feels more degrading than anything else

  93. J.M. Coetzee

      I, for one, am outraged.

  94. Michael

      My “hyper-feminist” response? I have gone to great lengths to discuss the actual writing and I even say above, “a writer can get away with anything with good style.” Most of my posts have been about the writing. 

  95. joe

      I meant to “post-as” J.M. Coetzee but my email address was recognized and my “post-as” was changed.

  96. lorian long

      yeah i agree with you re: writing, it was just the ‘a young girl desperate for attention and validation solicits a random, married writer twice her age in a position of relative authority for sex, he cums on her face (easily one of the most degrading sexual acts, and one heavily influenced by porn culture)’ that bothered me

  97. Michael

      Well, I mentioned it because there is always a connection between content and style, right? #Nabokov

  98. deadgod

      For me, here’s the thing generally with (what I take to be a merely posed) plainness:  that you’re “alive” enough to be consciously alive – and more:  “alive” enough to say I’m alive – is interesting and beautiful only as a starting line

      Even to say that you’re alive, even to yourself, is a step . . .  Where? you don’t know? not sure if you care? sure–you think–that you don’t?  –Simply to stop at I’m alive is almost not even mundane!

      Likewise with the (I think:  false) preference for “that” over “what”–a preference to the exclusion of “what”??  How so?  –when even to say “that” is to move – with understanding or not – “what”ly.  The muumuuvian argument for verbal discretion on the grounds of epistemic uncertainty is, to me, unconvincing:  to say “that” is already to begin to assert “what”.

  99. deadgod

      See, see, where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament.

      That is not a corny non-thought by someone with nothing to say.  I, who don’t know much, know (what feel to me like) many other examples.

  100. Koochiegameridiculous

      real talk this dude “adrien brody” is a nobody and he is definitely not the superego of the internet. he has 687 followers on twitter. thats not superego numbers ya feel me? when i found out he was  adrien brody it made the story less interesting and more sad because its just some hipster tryna get his dick sucked. before that i thought it was about brett easton ellis or someone actually influential and that made it more interesting

  101. Wgsebald


  102. Huh

      You think that he is “suffocating” metaphorically because he doesn’t like one sex blog post and found it unoriginal? 

  103. Anonymous

      “I kind of don’t care if I “get it” if it’s something I enjoyed reading”

      I think saying you don’t get it is just a nice way of saying you didn’t enjoy it but are holding off judgement.

  104. deadgod

      Here is a “mature” disclosure of the cause of loneliness:

      Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
      We make a dwelling in the evening air,
      In which being there together is enough.

      Here is another cause for writing–perhaps fictive, but, within its bombast, I think:  not oblivious:

      So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
      You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

  105. MJ

      I spent a the later part of the day at work (its a slow day, IT work is great!) reading through these comments and laughing to myself.

  106. deadgod

      [I mean:  the cause to write being loneliness.]

  107. sigggggh

      Um, we were discussing the “muumuu crew” in general and I have actually read the Calloway piece and did not think it had many merits. Have YOU actually read it? I’m being quite intellectually honest, but I do note you’ve been resorting to a lot of ad hominems in this thread. 

  108. tao lin

      i like your comment, thank you for posting it

      didn’t read clunky to me

      i ‘expanded’ my response to the person on tumblr to ~2k words, it now says some things about marie’s writing

  109. tao lin

      you think it’s boring, it isn’t ‘a boring story about boring sex’ unless you’re the only perspective that is relevant to you

      i don’t think it’s boring

      other people, also, obviously, don’t think it’s boring

      marie calloway has probably generated more relief from boredom (both relief for people like me who feel excited by reading and thinking about her writing and her existence & for people like you) in ~10 days than everyone in this comments section will for ~10 months combined, i estimate

      feel highly annoyed by comments like your comment

  110. Bobby Dixon

      Good point. 

      I was kind of referring to more obscure works that are still fun to read, even if they are really “dense.” 

  111. sigggggh

      By what measure are you judging the amount of relief and boredom her piece has caused? 

  112. M. Kitchell

      this is sort of my response to 75% of the muumuu writing, but i will say i found this marie calloway piece a hell of a lot more interesting than most of the other muumuu swag

  113. M. Kitchell

      holy shit ”
      remember momus? i first heard momus after mistyping matmos.” just made me giggle hard y’all

  114. James Yeh

      I have read it. To be honest, my initial response was something of horror and exhaustion (partly because it was 3am). But revisiting it, and reading it more openly, I found it to be surprisingly tender and complex. I’ll be the first to admit it has a lot of warts (but what, in the end, doesn’t?), but I found it compelling, sad, and, ultimately, very memorable. It’s very existence and form–15,000+ words presented in “boring” prose style, unflattering and basically unlovable by nearly every conventional standard–is kind of mesmerizing to me.

      Someone smart once said that the most important thing about writing is verve. (Was it Frank O’Hara?) Well, this has it, and in spades, in my opinion. I admire that. Maybe I’m misreading it, but I also admire the attention the writer honestly seems to have in engaging her partner, in listening to him and to opening herself up to him, regardless of what her motives were, which I don’t think even she completely knows and which we certainly cannot entirely claim to fully know.

      What’s most important I find is that, after reading it, I feel more excited–to live, to write, hell, even to comment here, which is what I have been doing and why I have been doing it.

  115. M. Kitchell

      there was an article on thisrecording about sofia coppola’s latest film, that was actually pretty amazing, and this was the best part:

      ‎”The number of possible life experiences is dwindling. Eventually we will all have one life experience, distinguishable only in small moments not accounted for by communal art. What draws divergent backgrounds into the American amalgam is the shared experience of life reflected in art, but the people who create this perception in the film medium are drastically limited by their own surroundings. The last thing you have to do is start making films about people markedly different from yourself, but the first thing you have to do is stop making films about people identical to yourself.”

      I feel like this is good advice for all writers too.  

      [and my major qualm is, like, if your life is so miserable, why do you want your writing to be just as miserable, talk about stasis]

  116. shaun gannon

      Kiss me out of the bearded barley,
      Nightly, beside the green, green grass
      Swing, swing, swing the spinning step
      You’ll wear those shoes and I will wear that dress

      Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
      Lead me out on the moonlit floor
      Lift you open hand
      Strike up the band, and make the fireflies dance
      Silver moon’s sparkling,
      So kiss me

      Kiss me down by the broken tree house 
      Swing me, upon its hanging tire
      Bring, bring, bring your flowered hat
      We’ll take the trail marked on your father’s map

      Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
      Lead me out on the moonlit floor
      Lift you open hand
      Strike up the band, and make the fireflies dance
      Silver moon’s sparkling,
      So kiss me

      Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
      Lead me out on the moonlit floor
      Lift you open hand
      Strike up the band, and make the fireflies dance
      Silver moon’s sparkling,
      So kiss me

      So kiss me
      So kiss me

  117. M. Kitchell

      lol i thought it was really cute when he was ‘afraid’ to come on her face

  118. M. Kitchell

      i’m also not a girl, but i fucking love getting a load blown on my face

  119. Anonymous

  120. M. Kitchell

      i read the story for the same reason, pure voyeurism, then upon finding out who the ‘mystery author’ was found myself completely bored, found parts of the story interesting in that there actually seems to be a bit of Marguerite Duras in the writing, although clearly not developed in the less and ridiculously less-poetic, but still, ya know, there.  

      what i find problematic is the sort of anti-sex outlook that pervades the story and the reactions to it; especially the part 3/4ths of the way through where there’s some totally naive “feminist” discussion of pornography, which ultimately leads to a weird andrea dworkin tone to the entire thing (all porn is rape yet here is my pornographic novel please buy it).  

      really think the world would be a lot better if every one were a lot more sex-positive and less terrified of the sex act and how it’s viewed, damn.  y’all see the new cronenberg?  Otto Gross is the only happy dude in that whole narrative.

  121. Michael

      It’s funny that people are liking your post, when we basically agree with each other. Content and style are never entirely separable. When I described the scenario above, I was honestly thinking more of the kind of artistic offensiveness that often comes with pornographic writing and the reliance on “shocking” situations to carry the story that ultimately leads to boredom. I wasn’t trying to make some grand feminist statement.

  122. James Yeh

      I hear you on the “bit of Duras.”

  123. sigggggh

      While the whole affair is clearly a non-story created in the indie lit echo chamber, and the original piece is pretty uninteresting, I do agree the whole “feminist” critique here is weak. There is nothing wrong with a woman describing a man cumming in her eye. The issue here is not “anti-feminism” at all. 

  124. Michael

      Dude, just stop. This story is bad. No sane person thinks this is a good story. Any writer who uses “moan” as a speech verb in dialogue tag is not to be taken seriously. 

  125. William VanDenBerg

      Oh, and I mean this earnestly:

      Congratulations Marie Calloway! Your writing caused a shitstorm on the internet! Most words on the internet get quickly ignored, but yours people shook fists and gnashed teeth and called names about. Merry Christmas!

  126. William VanDenBerg

      Uh oh, the boys are whipping their grammar dicks out.



  128. lorian long

      “Thought Catalog, MuuMuu House, New York Observer, htmlgiant, all working desperately to convince us that this completely uninteresting non-event of two nobodies fucking is somehow important.
      The emperor doesn’t only have no clothing, he has an unremarkable body and a boring penis. Give it up.”

      “I’m not sure what any of this is supposed to mean. I used ‘interchangeable’ to describe the story’s unoriginality as a whole and in specific spots. How does that indicate a ‘suffocating position on art’? So, you mean, I don’t like dull, lifeless writing and that makes me ‘suffocating’?”

      “You can find other less explicit evidence of a generosity of attention in art in countless examples, too numerous to name here. Eight-hour films, nine-hundred page five-part novels, fifty-page analyses on “get well” letters written by second graders, and so on. Art is, I think, careful attention to the things that are generally left unnoticed or viewed as ‘dull’ or ‘lifeless.'”

      ^other people, obviously, think it’s ‘boring.’ i am one of them. i understand other people don’t think it’s ‘boring.’ i felt like ‘james yeh’ and ‘michael’ were getting into a discussion regarding ‘artistic merit’ and ‘boringness’ when ‘michael’ asked the question, “so, you mean, i don’t like dull, lifeless writing and that makes me ‘suffocating?'” and ‘james yeh’ responded with “art is, i think, careful attention to the things that are generally left unnoticed or viewed as ‘dull’ ‘lifeless.'” that seemed like a discussion about to happen, and so i responded with a crass comment abt marie’s piece.

      i’m okay with you feeling ‘highly annoyed’ by my comment. i am ‘highly annoyed’ with the idea that this author leads “an interesting, compelling, complicated, slightly unhinged life” (james yeh) based on ‘vanilla’ hotel sex with an older, slightly pathetic teacher. but that is my opinion, i have ‘extreme’ tastes in sex and understand that not everyone feels the same way.

  129. marie calloway

      I did not “delete” my writing blog.  I wrote a post talking about it (“I dislike being watched”) but I was not referring to by people in general, but by one specific person who kept looking at my blog that I was very disturbed by for reasons I won’t go into here.  My blog hosting my stories is still up, as is my Facebook, twitter, email…  I don’t see how I retreated anywhere.

  130. deadgod

      feel that James Yeh asserted that Calloway’s piece “achieved” an “unsettl[ing], bother[some], disquiet[ing]” effect on him on this thread

      feel that James Yeh, in asserting that Calloway’s piece “achieved” the “provocation” on him that it did, was making the case that, for him, the story is ‘artistically meritorious’–though perhaps, in this, I am making more of an identification between this “achiev[ement]” and “artistic merit” than James Yeh would make

      feel that James Yeh quoted Cage to the effect that “boring” things can become, through persistent, “bor[ed]” exposure to them, “not boring at all” in order to defend the possibility that the “‘boringness’ of it all” is both obstacle and means to discovering “the artistic merit” both generally (at least sometimes) and specifically (in the case of Calloway’s story)

      feel quite engaged by–both annoyed by and, more, interested in–your discrimination between ‘liking’ and ‘asserting artistic merit’, in that I doubt that awareness of sensation and categories and principles of thought can be absolutely discerned one from the other

  131. d train


  132. lorian long

      but i wouldn’t even credit this story with ‘pornographic writing.’ i love porno writing. i want shock, i want smut. this story is flaccid. yr comment seemed ‘conservatively feminist’ because it seemed like you were referencing the ‘act’ rather than the art by using phrases such as ‘porn culture.’ then you followed it up with the question, ‘how many women like receiving moneyshots?’ so it seemed like you were taking a more personal/political stance on the whole thing.

  133. tao lin

      that makes sense, i should’ve looked more to see who you were responding to specifically

  134. andrew

      “…highlighting *that* they are doing something, not as much as *what* they are doing.” 
      i like this.i also like that it echoes paul goodman’s contemporary review of “on the road” (one of the appendices to “growing up absurd”) and his general critique of beat generation writing/self-promotion at that time.  seems like this conversation is part of a long tradition in american literary criticism.

  135. Anonymous

      I have this unshakeable sense, uncorroborated by much, that you, James, have devoted a lot more thought and analysis to that statement (“I wanted to connect. . . “)  than MC ever did.  

  136. Daniel Lichtenberg

      I’d just like to highlight that both the Observer article and this amazing comments thread gave me so much hope about this young new generation of writers.

  137. Michael

      “Pornographic” doesn’t have to refer specifically to sex–it can refer to any gratuitous writing that relies on sensationalism, and it’s possible for shock or smut to be used meaningfully.  You love “porno writing”? Really? Okay. Perhaps you use the word more loosely than most others. I don’t. It’s pretty clear to me when something intends to sensationalize and when something aspires to art. 

      As for the feminist angle, my point was to put everything on the table because it all connects. “Conservative feminist”? The story attempts to put forth a feminist agenda itself, noting double-standards of sex and yet its very construct belies that agenda. Finally, it’s insincere to pretend like the money shot doesn’t have a gendered context in porn. You say you like porn? Well, you do realize that many feminist scholars distinguish between different kinds of porn? Porn that portrays women at the mercy of male dominance (money shots, rape porn, “passed-out-drunk” porn, etc.) aren’t the same as porn where both parties share in the pleasure equally. The problem with the money shot is not necessarily the money shot itself (you can obviously argue for the purpose of degradation in sex), it’s that there doesn’t seem to be a correlative act for women in porn to use on men. This, combined with the money shot’s usage in most mainstream porn (porn that’s often vanilla) is seen by some as problematic.  So I disagree with you that the act in this case can be separated from the art. 

  138. Roxane

      I live for it, myself.

  139. Roxane

      I have similar concerns about some of my writing and the effect it would have on my parents. Because I like them. I wouldn’t want to just indulge my need to write about certain experiences without considering the repercussions for the people in my life. I think about this sort of thing a lot. Generally I still write what I want but I am mindful, or I try to be, that I don’t live in a bubble.

  140. A Depressed Hamster

      i think i have a yeast infection

  141. Anonymous

      last time I checked, doing a reverse image search with any kind of accuracy is fairly difficult, while searching for a line from someone’s writing published under their own name (like, for example, “Adrien Brody’s” as quoted in essay titled same) takes 4 seconds.

      What I’m saying is, the element of ‘risk’ here is negligible.

  142. Roxane

      I wrote this post to talk about the consequences of confession. This non story is a frame for that, nothing more, nothing less. We are talking about it for the same reason you commented in an “echo chamber.”

  143. Anonymous

      Karim, I miss you. 

  144. Roxane

      Really? I doubt most people would ever recognize Calloway. Her anonymity is relatively intact. I also don’t understand why you have to imply that people discussing this can’t write a story people want to read. For one there is ample evidence to the contrary. Beyond that, tossing out a vague insult is a weak way to defend someone else’s writing. It gives the impression you can’t argue for the writing on it’ss own merits.

  145. Jenny

      philipandrea dworkinrothstein, i never knew ye!

  146. Michael

      Haha! I think there can be “good” and “bad” porn films within the film genre of “pornography”; it’s admittedly difficult to compare film to fiction. Whatever. The writing is terrible so this particular topic doesn’t really matter and I probably reached. Touche.

  147. Nick Mamatas

      I hope that next week we get a story about Owen Wilson ejaculating on her tits while going on about permanent revolution and the Arab Spring.

  148. Bobby Dixon

      The fun is like, why do we like it when every one has sex? Boring or not. Generic or not. 

      I did like MC’s piece, though, as well as her Thought Catalog pieces. 

      She could become a lit-pornstar. Is that bad?

  149. Kreaykwon

      mostly bothered by the line about avocados. but oh well, “pro bono for the shit I like, bitch” as they say

  150. Bobby Dixon

      I like this discussion. 

  151. Bobby Dixon

      blog it

  152. Veronica

      the only place we got left to go is literary snuff films. oh brave new world!

  153. barry

      why doesnt everyone stop talking and writing and reading and just drink and fuck until we all love each other…

  154. Veronica

      O wonder!How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world!That has such people in it!

  155. barry

      also, are people pretending they dont know who marie calloway is, i dont understand?

  156. Karim Kazemi

      “…and that’s when uncle Zane and your father internet-reunited after ~4 long weeks of non-communication, in the comments section of some random ass HTML Giant article dissecting and and debating the questionable feminism of some crazy controversial something. Come to think of it, kids, I can’t really remember the title of the piece, the context, who published it, or why it was so fucking interesting to thirty or so of us on the internet, but the writer had some bullshit Jane Austen-core pseudonymous name that was supposed to make view her as a really sophisticated individual. The great thing about the lit community and this girl, is that in the end, we all overcame our beef with her and her weird-ass writing and we all pooled together some cash to buy her a laptop that has a keyboard with a functioning ‘shift’ key. Of course, none of us at the time had any idea that ‘Marie Calloway’ was just the pseudonym/persona that Tao Lin published himself/acted in when he wanted to write in his tumblrdiary about sex/sleep with creepy old men! Crazy shit.”

  157. joel p.

      i seriously doubt “Brody” gave his blessings on this. who would do that? the observer piece that claimed so also noted that “brody” couldn’t be reached for comment, so this couldn’t be verified. i’ll blame him for his actions but nobody deserves this, with real names.

  158. Ian

      Stupid. There are shitstorms about stupid things on the internet all the time. It means nothing. It certainly doesn’t constitute merit.

  159. Anonymous

  160. Afternoon Bites: Roxane Gay, Jello Biafra, unexpected Ian McEwan references, and more | Vol. 1 Brooklyn

      […] we direct your attention to “The Price of Revelation,” in which Roxane Gay examines the case of Marie Calloway? (Justin Taylor makes an interesting point […]

  161. c2k

      the cause to write being loneliness

      I think perhaps – maybe – that’s what our pseudonymous sex writer was trying to get at; not “to feel less alone” – task-driven or generally.

  162. mimi

      See, see, where Tao Lin’s ginger-infused kombucha streams in the firmament.

  163. bartleby_taco

      feel like a big part of the muumuu aesthetics is to somehow find a way to communicate internality in a way which, paradoxically, does not obfuscate ‘intention’/’meaning’/’communication’ as thing-in-itself by abstaining from language which is largely ‘colored’ by the auspices of conventional aspects of singular perspective (no use of metaphors, language which retains an intense fidelity to ‘objectivity’) which of course is a bit of a contrivance within the epistemology of the muumuu house aesthetic, being that by being completely beholden to and valorizing the ‘merit’ (though even that appears to be a dirty word) of the internal subject’s inner thoughts, variety of existences, ‘turmoil’, etc. they find the only way to access this internality is by adhering a use of language that is almost completely devoid of any referents to the ‘self’ or something. anybody get what i mean?

      also feel like, and I might be going out on a limb here/making a bit of a stretch in terms of an argument — that the muumuu house aesthetic does not necessitate the use of literature for the goal of self expression, which appears to be the thing that it exalts the most above everything, which to me seems to be a large reason why a lot of people seem displeased with it, in that some of the stuff produced by muumuuvians seems “lazy” in comparison to works of literature that appear to have a lot more ‘creative rigor’ than a detailing of everyday minutia in a flat detached voice — which of course isn’t something original in its own right, but something unceasingly adhered to; so the question that i was raising is — deep in its own philosophical framework, does the muumuu house philosophy necessarily care about literature qua literature? would it easily abandon its use of literature for another thing if it proved effective in translating and communicating its internality? like, will muumuu house become the next generation emo label is what I am saying. Will all of these people form Cap’n Jazz/Jets To Brazil inspired bands and then muumuu house will become the next Jade Tree. The lead singer of Jawbreaker teaches English at Hunter College anything is possible!!

  164. guest


  165. wtf ppl

      feminism as pure opportunism. let’s fuck famous people and tell how shitty they are. or let’s pretend to fuck famous people and tell. the younger we are the better. americans are such prudes. this whole deal would be so much more *edgy* if she were 15 or better yet 13. what’s the legal limit? the sasha-grey-azation of society. 

      it’s my choice whether i profit off my documented degradation! if i profit, then i am in control! if i profit, i win! look at me! i can fuck famous people and hit buttons on a keyboard! i can take 10 cocks and then write about it! 

      i’m a writer!

      joyce ain’t got shit on me!


  166. guest


  167. James Yeh

      Wow, I suppose I should be flattered you read me closely,
      deadgod. Hmm. I’ll try to respond, although it might be a little scattershot:

      I’m interested in thinking about the divides between achievement, artistic merit, and “liking” something. Clearly there’s a lot of crossover. Considering it now, after sleeping on it, I suppose my conception of the three moves along a gradient of increasing personal value, that’s to say, I think a story can achieve something without me liking it much at all, and I probably can like a story that achieves very little, and that a story with artistic merit, because I value art, is both an achievement and something I like.

      The part about “achieving provocation” is where the three–achievement, artistic merit, and “liking” something–start to intertwine for me. In short, I found the story memorable and it, on the whole, excited me to me read and then extended a kind of excitement into my life. I felt like being more attentive, more bold, more aware and feeling. I wanted to engage more openly with others and be more honest with myself. This is beyond something like misused grammar or bagginess in form or laziness in language, all things the story is being crucified for. I would maybe say it’s even beyond the other, more sordid and complicated issues of Marie Calloway’s intent with the story, and the backstory. Simply put, I felt there was a tremendous amount of verve in the piece. I can’t say at this point (or perhaps any point) whether or not it’s misguided verve–for instance, I was not aware she was using a pseudonuym, which changes my read on the piece itself, slightly, since so much of it is under the larger thrust of confessional–but all in all, I appreciated the piece and what it does.

      More than a few people have disagreed with my opinion of the story, on here, on Facebook, and in person, and that’s certainly fine. (It’s interesting that the most strongly voiced complaints have been about the story being simultaneously too boring and too shocking, which, put that way, sounds kind of appealing to me.) My irritation with the people who don’t like this story goes less with taste, though I might have admittedly not illustrated so well this with my previous comments, but with a lack of generosity and considerateness in their commenting. Engaging with the piece itself, as opposed to the noise surrounding the piece is, I think, the first step. The second is to say it without being a jerk.

      The Cage part I meant more as the ideal state of the writer, to be not easily or conventionally bored, less than the reader, but I would suggest it would also be a worthy stance for the reader, too, to be indefatigable and uncommonly receptive. It’s also, incidentally, perhaps a worthy stance on that other question, always lurking below: how to live.

  168. Guestagain

      spectacular hand wringing all around. critique and incessant assessment aside, the best thing about this is academic wankers and the literary snob mafia can no longer prevent people from publishing to the world whatever they want to. watch them writhe in newfound irrelevance like the dear departed recording industry

  169. Leapsloth14

      I could use a simile.

  170. tao lin
  171. Janey Smith

      I am writing a comment.

  172. Anonymous

  173. Janey Smith

      I am writing a comment.

  174. Janey Smith

      I am writing a comment to feel less alone.

  175. Janey Smith

      I am writing a sincere comment to feel less alone.

  176. Janey Smith

      I confess I am writing a sincere comment to feel less alone.

  177. Janey Smith

      I confess I am writing a sincere comment to feel less alone.


  178. James Yeh

      Did it work?

  179. Janey Smith

      I confess I am writing a sincere, subjective comment to feel less alone.


  180. Janey Smith

      I confess I am writing a sincere, subjective, careful, attentive comment about things generally left unnoticed or viewed as dull or lifeless to feel less alone.


  181. Janey Smith

      I confess I am writing a sincere comment to feel like I am less alone.


  182. Janey Smith

      I confess I am writing a sincere comment to feel less alone.


  183. Janey Smith

      It worked. You responded.

  184. deadgod

      Yes; rather than doubt that ‘feeling alone’ can ever be “state[d]” in a “mature” way as an “expla[nation] why you write” [James’s question], I preferred to offer an example of how it can.  (Not to argue Calloway’s maturity or immaturity–I feel on solider ground presenting Stevens’s as a “mature” voice.)

      Here’s the thing for me with ‘not feeling alone’:  in the teeth of love’s smallness and of death, ‘not being alone’ is such a fucking tiny triumph of awareness.

  185. deadgod

      Of course, I was using your remarks as evidence in responding to Tao Lin’s comment–which evidence he acknowledged in his reply to lorian’s remarks (neither of which I could see while writing my own, crosspostesque).

      I agree that, in the matter of judgement, ‘enjoyment’ (taken as nebulously as Tao Lin – and most of us generally – uses “‘i like this story'” here) and ‘artistic merit’ are not synonymously predicated.  Most of us enjoy at least a few one-star (in our separate views) things and are, eh, satisfied by small contact with at least a few five-star things.

      –but I doubt that ‘enjoyment’ and ‘artistic merit’ are as antithetical as I – perhaps mistakenly – think Tao Lin means here.  Not only can one not ‘like’ something one finds completely without ‘merit’, but one’s ‘liking’ for it is, to me, a register of one finding ‘merit’ of some kind.  Not synonyms, but ‘liking’ implies ‘merit’ of some kind, whether the liker wants responsibility for the implication or not.

      I don’t have much ethical judgement of either the story’s content or its backstory, because I’m not sure who’s the asshole(s).  It’s not a “shocking” tale, for sure–not to me.  (Why have people taken the backstory and story at face value?)  That you find the story artistically vivifying so strongly . . . that’s not been my experience from reading it.

      My question to Cage would be:  are you never ‘bored’?  Do you, James, never give up on something out of boredom?

  186. mimi


  187. Marie Calloway, My Lover (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Just Love Tao Lin) « BIG OTHER

      […] me be clear about the story ‘everyone’ is talking about: I have questions about the ‘Adrien Brody’ text written by Marie […]

  188. Brooks Sterritt

      RE post title: I see no price and no revelation at play in this situation really.

  189. Ameen M

      there’s one part re “commodification of self” via facebook [“No. I’m not talking about people who are aware of it. It’s just like people who write status updates ‘today me and Susie went to the beach…’ It’s just don’t you think there should be more than that tying people together?] which, assuming MC agrees w/ AB, has interesting implications in that her style, i.e. “highlighting ‘that'”, mirrors the style negatively characterized by AB, so that some kind of meta critique of herself or her marxism or AB’s marxism happens.

  190. Gant

      or, as AB “brilliantly” said: “read your pieces as critiques of narcissism and self-absorption”

  191. deadgod

      The “revelation” is a rat-out, namely, that a young woman propositioned a middle-aged man, he, despite having a girlfriend, agreed, they hooked up, she publicized their sex unflatteringly (in at least some eyes)–and she ratted the man out by name.  The “price[s]” of this rat-out are, specifically, the diminutions to his and her reputations and, generally, the erosion of trust in sexual relationships (which might be negligible, given the low amount of that among people generally) and the erosion of trust in documentation (especially in journalism and, eh, literary non-fiction, which trust might generally be under recent ‘reality’ attack).

      Why do you question Roxane’s usage of these ordinary – and, here, conventionally applicable – terms?  –because the circumstances themselves (of the assignation and its exposure) are mundane – too trite for a phrase that might describe something weightier?

      Are you exercised by the frenzy of those who attack or the hyperbole of those who defend the artistry of Calloway’s story?

  192. Brooks Sterritt

      I should have said “revelation” is a bit strong, or off. If you fuck a writer, journalist, someone with a bit of internet attention, it’s inevitable word will get out. I also don’t think anyone will pay a price, career-wise–quite the opposite.

  193. Janey Smith

      hi, mimi.

  194. deadgod

      Well, the man’s career, probably not – though the episode might affect his internet hook-ups as to both quantity (more) and quality (now what?).  The woman’s career as a writer, I’m less sure.  People can become obsessively vengeful in mobs. 

      As an accelerant or at least fuel to ‘reality’-based contamination of, what, confidence in truthy storytelling, maybe Roxane’s wider ethical concerns are well-placed?  –or a concern for discretion as a common rule or at least a virtue?

      But what I’d meant to suggest is that the Calloway thing itself is less interesting – by far – to me than the interest in it both pro and contra Calloway.  If you’d said to me ‘The Price of Revelation’ a couple of days ago, I’d have thought ‘Bradley Manning’ or the two semi-famous correspondents who were sexually attacked in Egypt or of the personal lives of corporate whistleblowers–as you say, it seems a strong way to refer to a pretty frequent rat-out.

  195. Guestagain

      half the indictment involves the young girl/middle age man scenario, but was there an pre mediated malicious intent? if there is an emerging trend of internet outing or shaming these men then people are going to very busy. the other part of the indictment seems to be absence of the expected literary/artistic effect. the seductions were mutual with no attempt made to ameliorate or rationalize them, the insecurities and weaknesses are likewise mutual and set out in plain sight and are recognizably all too human, the power exchanges and leverages are direct and make an uncomfortable result, again, no veneer, young girl writer, established middle age man with political and intellectual gravitas the girl can’t resist, he can’t resist, the wronged girlfriend/third party, we assume she is aggrieved, we want to think so, expect her to be, we want to sympathize, it’s a shambles, but isn’t it always? should the writer have constructed literary characters with winks and clues and expository to show and tell all of the above with the requisite psychologically impersonal distance to yield the more artistically elegant palatable result? should this be left unsaid? everybody knows these things happen all the time but often mitigated behind paint and sparkles to cover various smell tests

  196. DN

      Since when does this school get a magic pass to the land of even potential beauty? As I wrote that sentence I was using a keyboard.

  197. DN

      Hydra head? Think so. Which one’s the real one?

  198. DN

      Feel highly annoyed by comments like your comment.

  199. Jonathan Safran Foer

      Ms. Calloway – New Inquiry, for reals? did you just read about it in the NYTimes? At least seduce someone with gravitas. Rather than fuck the third-in-command on the website Lethem blurbed you ought to try for Lethem  

  200. Jonathan Safran Foer

      PS Joyce Carol Oates was frail but enthusiastic and a bit gamey

  201. Guestagain

      I’ve just been whapped upside the head for this sonofabitch comment and want to clarify that I was referring to the pre-online publishing and literary world and in no way intended to personally insult Ms. Gay or any of the other truly brilliant people who post and comment here 

  202. Annefranco

      either way you sound like an idiot.

  203. ajohnny1

      Lots of people are discrediting the story because of its status as autobiography; very few critique its literary merit, and most of those who do tend to use the autobiographical factor as an entry point. In both cases the general argument is something like “this story is vapid because the person who wrote it had a vapid outlook on the encounter.” Apart from the fact that such an opinion seems pretty false to me – after all, it’s not like the relationship described in the story was completely devoid of emotion, oblivious to consequence, or an example of “hop[ing] someone might have learned something by the end, except both parties definitely didn’t, because this is how they chose to treat it,” as one reaction put it – how the story came about is not nearly as important as what it is, as its own self-contained work. If anything it should be taken as a “default” as much Muumuu House writing uses “real events” as subject matter. That separates the story and others like it from the larger “confessional” genre, as the author’s persona is not meant to have real bearing on the work itself (I didn’t know it was based on actual events until I read the backlash).

      More importantly, it’s fine if people have a stylistic bone to pick with the story – I generally appreciate the work of Tao Lin & Co for reasons I can’t readily articulate, even if its style often grates on my patience – but it’s not productive to dismiss the writing based on initial, superficial reactions to the work. Style bears meaning, since it’s just as much a part of the “content” of a work as any other part; it should always be taken into consideration. So it’s derivative at first glance – it may read like something by Camus but I don’t think its intended effect is entirely the same.

  204. Internet explorer

      maybe cos everyon fuccin “talks” like “this” gl have fun

  205. Ameen M

      don’t understand why it’s assumed that the intention of her piece is to “rat-out” esp. since [i read somewhere that] AB was “ok” with the piece’s publication. feel the story’s ‘point’ (or at least something in the story that is more important than its IRL consequences) is to elicit discussion re gender roles, how egalitarian leftists attempt and fail at subverting these roles, how applicable/”doable” theoretical marxist and feminist beliefs are IRL, etc.

      i think that people maybe are assuming this b/ of the tao lin way the piece is presented. that style, though, allows for cool stuff to happen: meta critique of the style via critique of the style w/in the story when AB and MC first meet; tao liking the story b/ it is in his style and thus the story getting more attn; maybe other things.

  206. Christmas with Marie Calloway « the next youth hostel

      […] This reaction by Roxane Gay in HTML Giant asks interesting questions about the ethics of writing so openly about a situation that affects a third-person: in this case, the male character’s real-life girlfriend. […]

  207. deadgod

      No such “assum[ption]” is made; no such “intention” is “assumed”.  The protagonist does what she does, and that is to portray the male character as a douche to his girlfriend and a pussy as a hook-up.  Do you think the ‘voice’ of the story would or should shrink from owning that characterization of her characterization of Adrien Brody??

      The intention of this internet performance might be “to elicit discussion” about gender construction, progressive selling-out, and feminist self-contradiction–which were plainly foregrounded in the story–, but this intention needn’t cut any ice with respect to any effectiveness of the story.

      For just one example:  anybody can say “strict classical marxist”.  Does it feel to you like the characters in the story actually talked about “Gramsci” to each other in the tale’s unreported speech?

      Maybe persuasiveness is not a value held highly by the story’s author; on account of what effect(s) do you think this story succeeds with you (if it does)?

  208. Guestagain

      tell me more. it’s okay, we’re the only ones here 

  209. Annefranco


  210. On Marie Calloway and Harriette Wilson, original gangsta famewhore memoirist. « We Who Are About To Die

      […] Emily Gould writes really well about the sexual power dynamics that surround these kinds of relationships and writing that comes from it. Roxane Gay writes about the ethics of it all. […]

  211. Tomes and Talismans

      Come to Butt-Head.

  212. Marie Calloway: This Internet Sensation Is Brought To You By Tao Lin

      […] Roxane Gay wrote about NY Observer and Marie Calloway here. […]

  213. Amber

      Great analysis of this, Roxane. Especially this: “She wants to be watched so long as she is in control of how she is
      watched. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to extend that courtesy to the
      other people she writes about or who might be affected by what she
      writes.” Bingo. This is our society today, in nutshell. We all want to be controlled exhibitionists and we don’t care who we hurt in the process or maybe we just don’t think of people as people so we don’t think they CAN be hurt like we hurt. Internet shitstorms ensue, turning into real life shitstorms, and lives are wrecked. And then people express shock that it all turned out this way. But if they’d have only taken the time to think before they laid their guts out online, they might have saved themselves and others.

  214. ryder collins

      i don’t really see what the fuss is all about & i don’t see how lives are being wrecked by this piece… yeah, maybe she should have given mr. brody a pseudonym right away. & mama agrees with the above posters that the sex is boring, but maybe it’s shit like this found all over the interwebs that makes a young woman want to both own & use her sexuality:

  215. andrew

      Ryder, I think that’s part of the point Roxane is making. The lives that are affected by Calloway’s revelation are taking a back seat to the literary questions, which are valid but neglect to look at writers’ responsibilities to their subjects and the people in their subjects’ lives. We don’t know, of course, but I’m guessing that “Adrian Brody”‘s girlfriend, and the other real-life people named in the piece, and Adrian Brody himself would have a quibbling with the assertion that nothing really all that bad happened.

  216. T_s

      It’s a poorly written story, and it seems silly to waste so much digital ink on it.  But still, I don’t get Roxane’s point.  If the writer cheated on his girlfriend (and not to mention in such a dully narcissistic way), why should you care so much about protecting his feelings?  And, “protect the girlfriend”??  Doesn’t she deserve to know what a creep he is?

  217. Hopeless

      And of course, now she gets an interview @ The Rumpus and otherwise respected bloggers  are wasting space discussing her “story’s merits.” I want to be mad, but I’m too depressed–those of us who are not desperate for attention or willing to pimp ourselves out, those of us who would rather focus on the words on the page,  must sit by and watch some 19-year-old, lazy writer waste valuable space that could be devoted to a more deserving writer. Sad and pathetic. We should all just quit.

  218. c2k

      Congratulations on the film version of EL&IC. I can’t wait to see it.

  219. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      I like the story. I like the hype. It’s interesting and compelling. It’s definitely a story, no need to “story” it. Appreciate your perspective though :-)

  220. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      yr comment seems snobby. laid and lay is hard to use, srsly. the lack of pretension and honesty of being human is what makes it a good story, despite the obvious contradictions of character or ethical questions. Human’s are flawed. Her story represents that.

  221. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      you ever see Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” where the punk rock drug chick goes “janey”. just thought that. I commented it.

  222. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      Your comments are like a rap song where they go “what” a bunch ala Dave Chappelle skit. And in the comments it almost creates a rhythm where “I’m commenting”. I like it! “What! Uh! Yeah… What! Uh! Yeah… I’m commenting”.

  223. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      Well using “moan” some seems good. Do you “said” during sex? Looking at the writing rules she broke is lame, dude.

  224. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      what! Uh! yeah! I’m commenting! What! … dude loving reading these comments, srsly

  225. Michael

      No one said anything about “rules.” We’re talking choices. If you think “moan” is a good speech verb in a dialogue tag, go for it. Make sure you throw in a “guffawed” while you’re at it. As for “said,” the point of “said” is that it indicate the speaker–it’s supposed to be invisible. That’s the point of using “said” in a dialogue tag, so the dialogue stands on its own. “Moan” would be better used like this: She moaned. “Dialogue” (as opposed to inserted into a tag). 

  226. Michael

      Also, it’s pretty difficult for a person to “moan” a sentence, don’t you think? To “moan” is to make a particular sound–people don’t moan “Dear William, please make love to me.” That’s why you write a descriptive line before the dialogue showing her moaning, then start a new sentence with the dialogue. And that’s why you should never write dialogue like, “Hi,” he laughed. So maybe we are discussing “rules,” because you’ll have an awfully difficult time supporting the use of a non-speech verb in a dialogue tag. 

  227. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      I agree with what you wrote. Generally it should always be said and asked, but used sparingly, a “Hi,” He laughed. Does work. Of course, guffawked or whatev is shit. She moaned, “Fucked me” or She said, “Fuck me.” .. Well She said seems better… I think there is a place for a little variation though. hehe 

  228. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      OK, now you’re obs just saying blogicle to bother her.

  229. mimi

      i have not seen it, yet   


  230. Guest who
  231. Guestagain

      I am the intellectual overlord and hereby decree to damn you all from another dimension!

  232. Mark Folse

      First, I have not read the piece, only Roxanne’s and some other reactions to it. To write something like this pseudonymously in a fashion that outs the other person certainly meets the author’s self-definition of “fame whore” with the accent on the whore.

      I struggle with the issue of writing about my own experiences under my own name, and the limits that requires me to impose, the responsibility to others (namely my children). Just posting an unpublished Wallace Stevens poem on the subject of his difficult relations with his wife led to a ranting phone call from me soon to be ex (or as my friends suggest I call her, my financé). If I was concerned with her feelings, taking into account a literal-mindedness that approaches a cognitive defect, I might not have posted it. Because she cannot seem to control what she says to the children (16 and 19), I caught it from my daughter (the eldest) because it violated my pact about “not poking the bear”.

      I have written in a candid (but sometimes oblique) way about my own personal transition as I enter the late stages of middle age and relocate from the settled Dakotas back to the disaster/war zone I have always considered home. If the financé had read the blog as closely several years ago as she does now, perhaps things would have turned out differently (but probably in separation anyway).

      If you are going to hang your life out on the internet or in print, you need to take ownership of your writing. Cheap Internet anonymity is only going to work if 1) your writing is excellent (true about anything, not just this piece)  and 2) you disguise the other parties.  Otherwise, come out and own it. You don’t even need to use the other party’s name (the financé’s does not appear anywhere on mine for the last several years, nor does my children’s).

  233. sonia

      Perhaps because him cheating on his girlfriend is a private matter. If “Marie” wanted to alert the girlfriend, there’s nothing stopping her from doing so. (And for all we know, she did.) “Marie” made this intensely public. Who among us hasn’t made stupid relationship mistakes? Does that give someone the right to drag one’s name through the mud? I also think that by “protecting the girlfriend” we’re talking about protecting her from the embarrassment of people knowing that her boyfriend cheated on her, not the knowledge that he did it in the first place. Celebrities sign up for that but private citizens don’t.

  234. Roxane

      I am not really concerned with his feelings. I care about the girlfriend’s feelings and the knowledge that she has to face her peers with them knowing intimate, awkward things about her boyfriend. As a human being, that makes me empathize with her situation. It makes me cringe. That said, people fuck up all the time. People cheat all the time. They have to be prepared to reap the consequences, but this goes well beyond the typical consequences, doesn’t it? This guy cheated. It’s so commonplace as to be completely uninteresting unless you’re the one being cheated on, which we aren’t. What the girlfriend needs to know is not for us to decide but because of Calloway’s choice, we all get to have a say on a private matter. In a year, and probably far sooner, we’ll be talking about some other ridiculous thing. That’s how the Internet works. In the meantime, I don’t mind taking a moment to say, what a shame.

  235. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      I think you should write it for yourself. You’d get perspective and see it from the outside, and, maybe, view it from the perspective of that’s who I was then and some of the hurt/anger/depression wasn’t you, but the “you” of then. As the idea of yourself as a concept and the idea of yourself as your core self. I wrote a lot about depression and ‘issues’ when younger in a novel and the character stopped being ‘me’ but the ‘me’ then and the concepts of ‘me’ in my mind changed and I forgived and moved on. I had a close relationship with a person with borderline issues(and read a book abt it), and it seems that self-reflection can be painful, yet ultimately healing. And the other people part, hurting them, well… you should worry about that if an opportunity for publication happened. Writers have/and will face this decision for a long time. I follow you on tumblr and you seem like a good guy and a smart one. DO it man. The first draft would be catharthis and then following drafts would lead to further reflection and it would help you move on, and realize that you (and me) are all good people at our core, and the BS of life is the outside, which fucks with us, but it is not us. Write it man. It would give drive and purpose to your life. I’m writing this with love. I hope you don’t mind my two-cents. :-)

  236. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      is she a writer or a fucking school psychologist? 

  237. PANK Blog / Dear Marie Calloway

      […] Gay wrote about “Adrien Brody” for HTMLGiant, “The Price of Revelation” she called it. Her take on your story hit me. She wrote, “We are in the age of Internet […]

  238. Lilzed

      I am late to this conv, am mid way thru the story by marie calloway. it’s fantastic. the exp. of reading it, is just great. i feel i inhabit her character at each moment. it’s so honest. not in a cheap way. i feel her sweetness, and her corndog-ness. ok gotta go finish the story.

  239. Mapangui

      Her “story” is boring in every way.

  240. D_vitucci

      i found the story boring and scroll-alble. and not only that– she uses “infront” as one word, several times, and used “passed” when i think she meant “past.” nit picky perhaps. but when you blog for everybody to read, in effect saying look at me, honey it’s up for grabs.

  241. deadgod

      ha ha ha – expository writing 101:  don’t blogicle the lead

  242. deadgod


  243. deadgod

      the thread to that blogicle is something else

      marilove and Will especially–pure comedy gold

  244. mimi

      not sure  


  245. mimi
  246. Krysbeau

      I guess this may be a bit off topic for the OP, but I tried in earnest to appreciate what I thought Calloway was doing in the “story” and it didn’t work for me artistically. 

      I feel like it could have been written by anyone–which could work in some circumstances, but not this one mostly because she says her reason for writing is because she didn’t feel (at least at the time) that other people understood her subjectivity.  With that in mind before reading, I had an expectation that it wouldn’t be a kind of sex-positive Bella-from-Twilight kind of blank slate protagonist going on.  Also she talks to “Brody” at some point (too lazy to find the specific quote among the slush pile) about not having empathy when bad things happen to her friends, so I’m not sure I have empathy for what’s going on here with her, although I can’t tell if that’s a necessarily valid feeling or not.  Also, and this is just a personal pet peeve that I wouldn’t assume holds water for other people’s critiques, I get really annoyed when I get the feeling people are flaunting their intellectualism for no other reason than to make them seem superior to the typical mundane conversations of other people.  It bothers me because it puts this intellectual kind of conversation on a pedestal above other people’s, but this flaunting is here embodied in a writing style that is purposely stylistically mundane, so… it rubs me the wrong way.

      Or maybe the banality of everything in the story and the writing style was meant to highlight how both characters in it wanted to see themselves and others as exceptional?  I could possibly see that working too.  All and all I’m somewhere between ambivalent and unappreciative, though.

      But best of luck to Calloway becoming more nuanced and artistic in her writing, now that her platform to do so has expanded tremendously.  There were little bits of promise peppered through the piece that could become more focused or explored, and she’s obviously still developing her style (who isn’t?).  Maybe it’ll turn into something more exceptional.

  247. Jonathan Safran Foer

      You’re most welcome… I thought a kind approach to 9/11 was the way to go. We wanted Bill Murray for the dad but Tom Hanks was fine

  248. Mark Folse

      Part of the problem is that iI do not sense the verve in this story.  I love O’Hara but this lacks the sort of propulsive energy that drives his work. In the best microfiction there is something I call narrative trajectory or narrative impulse (in the sense of the specific thrust of a rocket or jet engine; geezers like me old enough to have messed about with model rockets understand this usage of impulse). That impulse is what drive microfiction, the sense that you enter and leave in media res a larger story. That same impulse is what propels longer works through a clear narrative arc. While the author establishes character motivation strikes it strikes me as thin, lacking verge of narrative ipulse There is no tension driving me along, only curiosity at what the fuss is all about.

      I will confess I have read almost no Muumu fiction. I read Shoplifting from American Apparel and stopped. As a gateway drug it is cheap Mexican. (I am open to other suggestions that might draw me deeper into the genre.)  I understand the attempt to depict the ennui of a generation adrift without direction in their world of consumption and technology. Frankly, it leaves me bored. Please go, I think, let something happen that ties is all together.

      The texture of say Raymond Carver is there, but it lacks the simple beauty of the description of the movement of sunlight and change of illumination of What We Mean When We Talk About Love that mirrors the action of the characters and adds a certain energy, contributes to the narrative impulse.

      Again, if someone wants to point me to something else to read that might engage me in the genre, please do. This piece and the one Tao Lin I’ve read leave me thinking “meh” as my sixteen year old might say.

      In the end the piece seems to be a bit of internet trolling, stirring up a controversy for the sole purpose of saying, “look at me, I’m a writer”.

  249. Mark Folse

      There’s apart in lieu of a part. Does the Observer have editors, or has all of publishing (including newspapers) descended to reliance on poorly supervised interns?

  250. Antoniacrane

      This is the best blog response I’ve read so far about the story and the writer. I also saw the value in the girl’s  story, but the text-message format wan’t writing to me. It was glib. Thank you for shedding light on this, Roxanne. 

  251. mimi

      of the four books i’ve read by Tao Lin (Bed, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Richard Yates & SFAA) (i ‘liked them’ in the order listed there) i really like Bed, short stories, & CBT was charming i thought  
      maybe you could start there  BSG’s During My Nervous Breakdown I Want To Have A Biographer Present was ok   & Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy was ok  i could not finish the ‘Calloway’ story – totally weak, i felt embarrassed for her

  252. Lilzed

      Finished the story. 70 percent sure the girl is a sociopath.

  253. Antonia Crane Rants » Blog Archive » Licking the Faces of 2011

      […]      I don’t know if Marie Calloway is a twinkling voice. Time will tell. Stephen recently interviewed her about her text message story. If you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, skip everything and just read this essay by Roxanne Gay about it: […]

  254. Mark Folse

      I not only finished it but PDFed it off and will read it again today, but I don’t expect it to improve on a second reading. I will check out Bed.

  255. Cvan

      Of course she does (get the interview).  Rumpus has a soft soft spot for shallow people writing about sex.  It gets tiresome.  There can be some silliness on htmlgiant, but generally speaking, I learn more and learn about more books on this site in any given week than on Rumpus in any given cluster of months.  Frankly the hullabaloo about Rumpus is bewildering.

  256. Cvan

      As literature, muumuu is television.  All surface, all the time.

  257. Cvan

      I’m pretty sure this is going to be on the next season of Portlandia.

  258. Rae Bryant

      As always, well done, Roxane. I’m not sure I have an issue with Calloway writing about doing things she’ll regret in twenty years. Honestly, I think those are often the most interesting elements of a life to write, when the voice is there. A twenty-one-year-old could potentially have a developed voice and craft worthy of a story. I’m not saying that’s what we have here…

      I definitely see an issue with sharing every last embarrassing detail of one’s life and others’ lives online for everyone to see while withholding your own identity. That’s easy for a no-name or new-name, pseudonymous author to do, whereas the “famously outed” author would be far more easily recognizable in the details shared. So, the famously outed gave his permission. So be it. The quality of the story makes no difference to the potential the story might offer for the famously outed’s marketing purposes. He did what any slightly savvy, famously outed author would have done. Bad press is good press and good press is good press and all that…

      I’ve read a few comments here that do not reflect the reasoned tone of the original article written (by Roxane). Some comments digress and take interesting asides, as expected on html and that’s why we love it, but shall I risk being another voice?

      Marie Calloway has responded to an essay of fairly strong critique here: There is an element of grace and potential something in her response. Dare I say, I find this interesting, and I applaud her for it.

  259. postitbreakup

      thank you

  260. Who We Talk About When We Talk About Ourselves | The Portrait of a Would-Be Artist as a Young Woman

      […] people have written excellent essays on why Calloway’s story is problematic (I recommend Roxane Gay’s essay at HTMLGiant and Alana Noel Voth’s essay at PANK) and I really don’t have much to add to the […]

  261. Un-poetic review #7 | Corrina Bain

      […] Rumpus contributor Roxane Gay considers the implications of Adrien Brody on HTMLGIANT. […]

  262. Sweet Marie | Bark: A Blog of Literature, Culture, and Art

      […]  Roxane Gay wrote a piece for HTMLGIANT, raising some questions about the ethics around disseminating such intimate details when Marie Calloway and “Adrien Brody” weren’t the only ones involved—his girlfriend stumbled across and read the very graphic account of them having sex, and had to deal with the fallout from everyone knowing that “Adrien Brody” was really her boyfriend. Kate Zambreno argued pretty vehemently that the story does have literary merit, that Calloway was aware of all the choices she was making in the piece, and that culturally we’re so dismissive of girls and young women’s experiences that everyone wasn’t taking the piece seriously simply because it involved a young female writing frankly about sex.* Zoe Zolbrod said “I was completely drawn into the story. It nakedly addresses so many issues I’m perennially interested in and currently writing about or around: Gender, youth, age difference, sexuality, power, honesty, attraction, ethics, transaction, responsibility.” Here is Tao Lin’s response to someone insulting Calloway and the story, in which Tao Lin defends the story and also Marie Calloway herself, and he does so by calling the person stupid, but he also asserts that the story has “relatively little sex and, I feel, no ‘shock value.’” (Which I disagree with, but that’s fine.) […]

  263. Public Sex of Feminine | The Lantern Daily

      […] here). There has been a lot of back and forth about it, including a piece in The New York Observer, a response by Roxanne Gay on html giant and another response by Kate Zambreno on her blog, francesfarmerismysister (from which I gleaned […]

  264. Muumuu House at St. Marks Bookshop | The Outlet: the Blog of Electric Literature

      […] read from her Muumuu story, “Adrien Brody,” which was recently the topic of many a bloggers’ attention. She read from the end of the piece, where her and Adrien Brody initiate in the most awkward act of […]

  265. A Story With Marie Calloway But Without Adrien Brody | Marcus Speh — Nothing To Flawnt

      […] read in a few blog posts. I’ve looked at the orig­i­nal text at Muumuu House and I’ve read Rox­ane Gay’s post at HTML­giant which is emi­nently sen­si­ble as is most of her what she writes. The debate inter­ests me as a […]

  266. Marcus Speh

      I’ve been inspired to write something involving Marie Calloway. It’s called “Meeting Marie Calloway Without Adrien Brody“. It is a comment on these literary events though the commenting aspect is not in the foreground but the story is. Cheers from Berlin, folks.

  267. Meeting Marie Calloway Without Adrien Brody « Marcus Speh

      […] in a few blog posts. I’ve looked at the original text at Muumuu House and I’ve read Roxane Gay’s post at HTMLgiant which is eminently sensible as is most of her what she writes. The debate interests me as a […]

  268. The best HTMLGIANT posts as chosen by you the readers of HTMLGIANT or at least some of you | HTMLGIANT

      […] Roxane Gay: The Price of Revelation […]

  269. 25 Points: what purpose did i serve in your life | HTMLGIANT

      […] Some old links [TRIGGER WARNING: "journalism"]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, […]

  270. 25 Points: what purpose did i serve in your life | GIANT READER

      […] 4. Some old links [TRIGGER WARNING: "journalism"]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 […]

  271. Rae Bryant | "Adrien Brody," Adrien Brody, and Adrien Brody's Nose: A Response to Tao Lin's Response to "Tumblr 'Shit-Talking'" | The Nervous Breakdown

      […] in reading Tao Lin’s take here.  Or Roxane Gay’s take on the matter, which you can read here. And Stephen Elliott interviewed Marie Calloway here.  —TNB […]

  272. Report from the Beseiged Poets: Defending the indecent // André Babynthe Town Crier

      […] literary blog of the future” founded by Blake Butler (and a blog no stranger to kerfuffles, controversies, and “shitstorms”). As catalogued here by Rauan Klassnik, disgruntled poet Philip Hopkins (and […]

  273. Marie Calloway: This Internet Sensation Is Brought To You By Tao Lin

      […] Roxane Gay wrote about NY Observer and Marie Calloway here. […]

  274. The Performativity of Marie Calloway, a review of ‘what purpose did i serve in your life’ | Abstract Modem

      […] been wont to do, irresistible evil sirens that they are. Even Roxane Gay stated in her piece on HTMLgiant: that “She wants to be watched so long as she is in control of how she is watched. […]