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The Tao of Tao Lin

By Harriet Staff

Tao Lin’s second novel, Richard Yates, has nothing to do with Richard Yates. The story of Richard Yates is based on the story of Tao Lin is based on Richard Yates. Dakota Fanning and Haley Joel Osment are fictional characters not the real actors in Richard Yates, a novel by writer/poet/publisher Tao Lin.

It’s hard to know how to begin writing about Tao Lin, or writing about someone else writing about Tao Lin. Lin writes and speaks in simple sentences, and sometimes defining their meaning is like catching mercury. He’s a minimalist who has maximized his exposure. He writes a lot about gchat. He’s a contradiction, or maybe just wants to seem like one? Anyway, Hillel Italie from the Associated Press wrote this great profile of Lin:

There is danger and sadness in his work, but not defeat, if only because of the author’s commitment to telling the story. In a piece from “Bed,” one of the main characters is a creative writing student who submits “crude, uncritiqueable” fiction that gets “straight to the point, which was always bafflement.” Lin calls “bafflement” another word for “mystery,” which, for an author, is another word for inspiration.

“Whenever people look at a depressing book and view it as, like, a negative thing, I don’t think they’re viewing it as having been created by a person,” Lin says. “If you view both the book and the person, then it’s definitely a life-affirming thing. A person, instead of feeling like the characters do, has actually done something about it by writing a book. So I think a book is always life-affirming.”


Posted in Poetry News on Friday, September 3rd, 2010 by Harriet Staff.