Tao Lin in Japan, 2010
July 2, 1983 |
|Notable work(s)||Taipei, Bed, Richard Yates, Shoplifting from American Apparel|
|Spouse(s)||Megan Boyle (separated)|
Tao Lin (Traditional Chinese: 林 韜, Simplified Chinese: 林 韬, Pinyin: Lín Tāo, born July 2, 1983) is an American novelist, poet, essayist, short-story writer, and artist. He has published three novels, two books of poetry, one short story collection, and one novella in print as well as an extensive assortment of online content. His third novel, Taipei, was published by Vintage on June 4, 2013.
In May 2012, he began a weekly column, "Drug-Related Photoshop Art", for Vice Magazine, to which he also frequently contributes fiction and essays. He was an early, frequent contributor to Thought Catalog and has also written for New York Times, Granta, New York Observer, Gawker, Poetry Foundation, and The Believer.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Critical response
- 3 Books
- 4 Muumuu House
- 5 MDMAfilms
- 6 Internet Presence
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 Selected work available online
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Tao Lin was born to Taiwanese parents and lives in New York City. He graduated from New York University in 2005 with a B.A. in journalism. He has lectured on his writing and art at Vassar, Kansas City Art Institute, Columbia College, UNC Chapel Hill, and other universities and museums, including The Museum of Modern Art and The New Museum. In 2012 he taught a graduate course at Sarah Lawrence College called "The Contemporary Short Story", for which he created a widely circulated chart.
Lin has one brother who also lives in New York; their father is a retired physics professor who is the inventor of the flying-spot LASIK, a laser procedure for vision correction (US pat. #5520679, 1991).
Lin's writing has attracted both negative and positive attention from various publications. Gawker once referred to him as "maybe perhaps the single most irritating person we've ever had to deal with", though he was later "pardoned". After the "pardon", Gawker published a piece Lin had written. L Magazine said, "We've long been deeply irked by Lin's vacuous posturing and 'I know you are but what am I' dorm-room philosophizing..." Sam Anderson, in New York Magazine, wrote, "Dismissing Lin, however, ignores the fact that he is deeply smart, funny, and head-over-heels dedicated in exactly the way we like our young artists to be." Miranda July has praised his work as "moving and necessary."
In 2013 novelist Benjamin Lytal said in New York Observer: "True, his characters are young people living in Brooklyn. And he writes about the Internet. But we should stop calling Tao Lin the voice of his generation. Taipei, his new novel, has less to do with his generation than with the literary tradition of Knut Hamsun, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Musil." Lytal continues: "Mr. Lin was first thought to be 'generational' because he was very young and had a big online following. But even in 2005 Mr. Lin cited throwback influences like Ann Beattie, Frederick Barthelme, and Joy Williams—somewhat unfashionable choices, indicating Mr. Lin’s highly individual taste for understatement, quirkiness, and what has been called K-Mart realism."
An article in The Atlantic described Lin as having a "fairly staggering" knack for self-promotion. The same article said "there's something unusual about a writer being so transparent, so ready to tell you every insignificant detail of a seemingly eventful day, so aware of his next novel's word count, yet also remaining so opaque, mysterious..."
Lin's work has increasingly been praised in the UK, including positive reviews from The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement, who, reviewing Taipei in 2013, said Lin was "a daring, urgent voice for a malfunctioning age," and a 2010 career overview from London Review of Books.
An article in AALR in 2012, reviewing Lin's prose books, stated:
David Foster Wallace concluded “E Unabus Pluram” with the hope that one day, a writer, bilingual in both irony and sincerity, would be able to engage a post-ironic audience without need of the essentially terminal narrative armaments his postmodern forefathers bequeathed her (or him). And if Tao Lin has one gift, it is a biplanar ability to convince a generation of sincerity-starved young men and women to embrace his realist, single-entendre fiction while convincingly presenting himself as the inveterately hip jester of the online-spawned lit scene. Replete with single quotes, unblinking unseriousness, the word ‘bro,’ and punk-y shots at the corporate literary edifice, Lin’s very funny, very “self-aware” Internet presence is a signal to MacBook owners the world over that he is, most importantly, one of them. Lin’s fiction and poetry, replete with a baseline sadness, blips of absurdity, and a monastic commitment to personal truth, has the freshly coined and postmodernity-prescribed ability to seize the techno-catatonic comment-section dwellers who were repulsed or charmed enough by online Lin to face a set of his sentences and make abundantly clear that, yes, he does know what it’s like to exist online yet have to honestly live offline.
you are a little bit happier than i am (2006)
In November 2006 Lin's first book, a poetry collection, you are a little bit happier than i am, was published. It was the winner of Action Books' December Prize and has been a small press bestseller.
Eeeee Eee Eeee & Bed (2007)
In May 2007 Lin's first novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and first story collection, Bed were published simultaneously. Of the stories, Jennifer Bassett, writing in KGB Lit Journal, said: "In structure and tone, they have the feel of early Lorrie Moore and Deborah Eisenberg. Like Moore's characters, there are a lot of plays on language and within each story, a return to the same images or ideas -- or jokes. And like Moore, most of these characters live in New York, are unemployed or recently employed, and are originally from somewhere more provincial (Florida in Lin's case, Wisconsin in Moore's). However, Lin knows to dig a little deeper into his characters--something we see in Moore's later stories, but less so in her early ones."
They were ignored by most mainstream media but have since been referenced in The Independent (who called Eeeee Eee Eeee "a wonderfully deadpan joke") and The New York Times who called Lin a "deadpan literary trickster" in reference to Eeeee Eee Eeee.
cognitive-behavioral therapy (2008)
Shoplifting from American Apparel (2009)
In September 2009 Lin's novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel, was published to mixed reviews. The Guardian said, "Trancelike and often hilarious… Lin's writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian." The Village Voice called it a "fragile, elusive book." Bookslut said, "it shares an affected childishness with bands like The Moldy Peaches and it has a put-on weirdness reminiscent of Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You." Time Out New York said, "Writing about being an artist makes most contemporary artists self-conscious, squeamish and arch. Lin, however, appears to be comfortable, even earnest, when his characters try to describe their aspirations (or their shortcomings) [...] purposefully raw." San Francisco Chronicle said, “Tao Lin's sly, forlorn, deadpan humor jumps off the page [...] will delight fans of everyone from Mark Twain to Michelle Tea.” Los Angeles Times said, "Camus' The Stranger or sociopath?" while Austin Chronicle called it "scathingly funny" and said that "it might just be the future of literature." Another reviewer described it as "a vehicle...for self-promotion."
In an interview aired December 2009 with Michael Silverblatt on KCRW's Bookworm Silverblatt called the novella "the purest example so far of the minimalist aesthetic as it used to be enunciated" and Lin described the novella's style as deliberately "concrete, with all the focus on surface details, with no sentences devoted to thoughts or feelings, and I think that results in a kind of themelessness, that, in its lack of focus on anything else, the theme becomes, to me, the passage of time."
Richard Yates (2010)
In a book review in The New York Times, Charles Bock described the book as "more interesting as a concept than as an actual narrative", adding, "By the time I reached the last 50 pages, each time the characters said they wanted to kill themselves, I knew exactly how they felt."
Novelist and philosophy professor Clancy Martin said of it: "Richard Yates is hilarious, menacing, and hugely intelligent. Tao Lin is a Kafka for the iPhone generation. He has that most important gift: it’s impossible to imagine anyone else writing like he does and sounding authentic. Yet he has already spawned a huge school of Lin imitators. As precocious and prolific as he is, every book surpasses the last. Tao Lin may well be the most important writer under thirty working today."
On February 23, 2013, Publishers Weekly awarded Taipei a starred review, predicting it would be Lin's "breakout" book and describing it as "a novel about disaffection that's oddly affecting" and "a book without an ounce of self-pity, melodrama, or posturing."
Taipei was published by Vintage on June 4, 2013, to mostly positive reviews. Novelist Benjamin Lytal, writing in the New York Observer, called it Lin's "modernist masterpiece." Lytal: "[W]e should stop calling Tao Lin the voice of his generation. Taipei, his new novel, has less to do with his generation than with the literary tradition of Knut Hamsun, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Musil." Slate: Taipei casts a surprisingly introspective eye on the spare, 21st-century landscape Lin has such a knack for depicting."
New York Times critic Dwight Garner wrote, "I loathe reviews in which a critic claims to have love-hate feelings about a work of art. It’s a way of having no opinion at all. But I love and hate Taipei."
On June 18, writing for The Daily Beast, critic Emily Witt said in a highly positive review:
Taipei is exactly the kind of book I hoped Tao Lin would one day write. He is one of the few fiction writers around who engages with contemporary life, rather than treating his writing online as existing in opposition to or apart from the hallowed analog space of the novel. He’s consistently good for a few laughs and writes in a singular style already much imitated by his many sycophants on the Internet. Some people like Tao Lin for solely these reasons, or treat him as a sort of novelty or joke. But Lin can also produce the feelings of existential wonder that all good novelists provoke. His writing reveals the hyperbole in conversational language that we use, it seems, to make up for living lives where equanimity and well-adjustment are the most valued attributes, where human emotions are pathologized into illness: we do not fall in love, we become “obsessed”; we do not dislike, we “hate”. We manipulate ourselves chemically to avoid acting “crazy.”
On June 30, in The New York Times Book Review, Clancy Martin wrote:
His writing is weird, upsetting, memorable, honest — and it’s only getting better [...] But I didn’t anticipate Taipei, his latest, which is, to put it bluntly, a gigantic leap forward. Here we have a serious, first-rate novelist putting all his skills to work. Taipei is a love story, and although it’s Lin’s third novel it’s also, in a sense, a classic first novel: it’s semi-autobiographical (Lin has described it as the distillation of 25,000 pages of memory) and it’s a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story about a young man who learns, through love, that life is larger than he thought it was.
On July 5 The New York Times Book Review awarded Taipei an Editors' Choice distinction. It was the only paperback on the list for the week.
On KCRW's Bookworm, in a conversation with Lin, Michael Silverblatt called it, "The most moving depiction of the way we live now," saying that it was "unbearably moving."
Lin founded the literary press Muumuu House in late 2008. The press has published collections of poetry and prose by Ellen Kennedy, Brandon Scott Gorrell, and Megan Boyle in print as well as work by Ben Lerner, Sheila Heti, Michael W. Clune, Matthew Rohrer, Sam Pink, Deb Olin Unferth, Rebecca Curtis, Noah Cicero, Mallory Whitten, Jordan Castro, Mira Gonzalez, and others online.
Lin co-founded, with Megan Boyle, the film company MDMAfilms in late 2010. Its feature-length releases, all shot on MacBooks, include a documentary on Bebe Zeva (of which Filmmaker Magazine said "'The yearning for human contact — for laughter, for spontaneous joy as Zeva periodically spins and twirls and dodges her way beyond the gaze of the laptop camera — takes Harmony Korine’s notion of 'mistake-ism' to new levels, so that the radical gestures of the Lin/Boyle films occur not when things go wrong, but when they go right.") and two feature films titled MDMA and Mumblecore.
Lin has developed a large following on the internet, and has become infamous on 4chan's /lit/ board, where the popular meme 'Go to bed, Tao' came about as the result of a spurious rumor that Lin was self-promoting lousy prose on the site. The denizens of /lit/ jokingly refer to Lin as the 'Kafka of the Internet' and humorously refer the author as the 'voice of a generation'. In tribute to his fans, Tao Lin briefly "had an idea to title it [his latest novel] 4chan", before deciding on Taipei.
- hikikomori, bear parade, 2006.
- Today The Sky is Blue and White with Bright Blue Spots and a Small Pale Moon and I Will Destroy Our Relationship Today, bear parade, 2006.
- this emotion was a little e-book, bear parade, 2006.
- you are a little bit happier than i am, Action Books, 2006.
- cognitive-behavioral therapy, Melville House, 2008.
- Eeeee Eee Eeee, Melville House, 2007.
- Richard Yates, Melville House, 2010.
- Taipei, Vintage Books, 2013.
Selected work available online
- Sasquatch from Bed
- Love is a Thing on Sale for More Money Than There Exists from Bed
- Jawbreaker's Major-Label Album at Vice
- How To Give A Reading on Mushrooms at Thought Catalog
- Excerpt of Taipei at Vice
- Excerpt of Richard Yates at Hipster Runoff
- When I Moved Online in New York Times
- Essay about the future of the novel in New York Observer
- An Account of Being Arrested For Trespassing NYU's Bookstore at Gawker
- Koko, The "Talking" Gorilla at Thought Catalog
- Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami at Thought Catalog
- Only Connect at Poetry Foundation
- Relationship Poems at Poetry Foundation
- What I Can Tell You About Seattle Based on the People I've Met Who Are From There at The Stranger
- The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer Can Achieve in America at The Stranger
- "Taipei". Amazon. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Lin, Tao. "Drug-Related Photoshop Art" Vice Magazine.
- Tao Lin Now Selling Videos of Himself on Ecstasy to Pay the Rent: An Interview with MDMAfilms, L Magazine
- Small Press Points, Poets & Writers
- Roy, Jessica. "NYU Alum and Poet Tao Lin Doesn’t Care Whether or Not You Think Print Is Dead". NYU Local.
- The Contemporary Short Story
- Gould, Emily (2007-07-27). "Now We Also Hate Miranda July". Gawker. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- Gould, Emily (2007-12-04). "Pardons". Gawker. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
- "An Account of Being Arrested for 'Trespassing' NYU's Bookstore". Gawker.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Kyzer, Larissa. "The Best of NYC LETTERS | Books | The L Magazine - New York City's Local Event and Arts & Culture Guide". The L Magazine. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Anderson, Sam (2009-01-11). "Tao Lin, Lit Boy - The All New Issue - New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- "Shoplifting From American Apparell". Melville House.
- Hua Hsu. "Terminal Boredom: Reading Tao Lin" retrieved August 25, 2010 from www.atlantic.com.
- Poole, Steven (2009-11-14). "Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin – Book review". The Guardian (London).
- Lezard, Nicholas (2010-11-13). "Richard Yates by Tao Lin – review". The Guardian (London).
- Haglund, David (October 21, 2010). "A Kind of Gnawing Offness". London Review of Books. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Poetry Bestsellers July Aug 2008 : Small Press Distribution". Spdbooks.org. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- "Poetry Bestsellers September 2007 : Small Press Distribution". Spdbooks.org. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- KGB Bar & Lit Journal
- Thorne, Matt (2010-06-04). "Beatrice and Virgil, By Yann Martel". The Independent (London).
- Vizzini, Ned (2010-05-06). "Bridge Between Generations". The New York Times.
- "Melville House Publishing | Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy". Mhpbooks.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- State of the Union | Wave Books
- [dead link]
- Poole, Steven (2009-11-14). "Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- Ben Beitler (2009-09-08). "Tao Lin's Five-Finger Discount - Page 1 - Books - New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Kati Nolfi. "Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin". Bookslut. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- "Tao Lin - Shoplifting from American Apparel - Book review - Time Out New York". Newyork.timeout.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28.[dead link]
- Messer, Ari (2009-10-01). "Tao Lin: 'Shoplifting from American Apparel'". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Discoveries: 'Shoplifting From American Apparel'". Los Angeles Times. 2009-09-27. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- "Austin Books: Review - Shoplifting From American Apparel". AustinChronicle.com. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Nolfi, Katie (December 6, 2009). "Review a Day: Shoplifting from American Apparel". Powell's Books. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Bookworm: Tao Lin". KCRW. December 3, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- Schmidt, Mackenzie (2009-12-16). "Urban Outfitters Is Actually Selling Tao Lin's Novella Shoplifting at American Apparel - New York News - Runnin' Scared". Blogs.villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Roy, Jessica (2009-09-25). "NYU Alum and Poet Tao Lin Doesn’t Care Whether or Not You Think Print Is Dead". NYU Local. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- Charles Bock (September 24, 2010). "Book Review - Richard Yates - By Tao Lin - NYTimes.com". nytimes.com. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- "Richard Yates, Tao Lin". Melville House. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- Fiction Review: Taipei by Tao Lin. Vintage, $14.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-307-95017-8
- Gchat Is a Noble Pursuit: Tao Lin’s Modernist Masterpiece | Observer
- Tao Lin’s Taipei reviewed: techy, drug-fueled, existential fiction. - Slate Magazine
- The Gpistolary Novel: Tao Lin’s “Taipei” - The Daily Beast
- Tao Lin Now Selling Videos of Himself on Ecstasy to Pay the Rent: An Interview with MDMA Films, L Magazine
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tao Lin.|
- Official site
- Author's Twitter account
- Interview with the author (2009) by KCRW's Bookworm
- Interview with the author (2013) by KCRW's Bookworm
- Interview with the author by Deb Olin Unferth at The Millions
- Interview with the author by Granta
- Self-profile in The Stranger
- Career Overview in London Review of Books
- Profile in Wall Street Journal
- Profile in New York Observer
- Profile in New York Magazine
- Review of Taipei in The Daily Beast
- Review of Taipei in New York Observer
- Review of Taipei in New York Times by Dwight Gardner
- Review of Taipei in New York Times Book Review by Clancy Martin
- Review of Richard Yates in New York Times Book Review
- Review of Richard Yates in The Guardian
- Review of Richard Yates in Boston Globe
- Review of Shoplifting from American Apparel in San Francisco Guardian
- Review of Shoplifting from American Apparel in The Guardian