Tao lin

Neutral faced 'founding father' of 'alt lit'

Tao Lin (born July 2, 1983) is an American writer. He was born of Taiwanese parents and lives in Manhattan, NY. He graduated from New York University in 2005 with a B.A. in Journalism.

He is the author of two novels, a novella, a short story collection, and two poetry collections. In May 2011, he began a weekly column titled "Drug-Related Photoshop Art" for Vice Magazine.

Critical responseEdit

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",[2] though he was later "pardoned".[3] After the "pardon", Gawker published a piece Lin had written.[4]

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..."[5] 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."[6]

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..."[7]

Lin's work has increasingly been praised in the UK, including positive reviews from The Guardian[8][9] and a career overview from London Review of Books.[10]


[edit]you are a little bit happier than i am (2006)Edit

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.[11][12]

[edit]Eeeee Eee Eeee & Bed (2007)Edit

In May 2007 Lin's first novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and first story collection, 'Bed were published simultaneously.

They were ignored by most mainstream media but have since been referenced in The Independent (who called Eeeee Eee Eeee "a wonderfully deadpan joke"[13]) and The New York Times who called Lin a "deadpan literary trickster"[14] in reference to Eeeee Eee Eeee.

Eeeee Eee Eeee has been translated to Spanish, Japanese,[15] Chinese-Serbian,[16] and German.[17]

[edit]cognitive-behavioral therapy (2008)Edit

In May 2008 Lin's second poetry collection, cognitive-behavioral therapy was published.[18]

A French translation will be published by Au Diable Vauvert[19] in 2013.

[edit]Shoplifting from American Apparel (2009)Edit

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."[20] The Village Voice called it a "fragile, elusive book."[21] 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."[22] 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."[23] 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.”[24] Los Angeles Times said, "Camus' The Stranger or sociopath?"[25] while Austin Chronicle called it "scathingly funny" and said that "it might just be the future of literature."[26] Another reviewer described it as "a vehicle...for self-promotion."[27]

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"[28] 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."[28]

In December 2009 clothing retailer Urban Outfitters began selling Shoplifting from American Apparel in its stores.[29]

As of Summer 2011, a film adaptation of Shoplifting from American Apparel is in the works by Sangha Films, starring Noah Cicero and Jordan Castro.[30]

[edit]Richard Yates (2010)Edit

Published September 7, 2010 by Melville House Publishing,[31] Richard Yates is Tao Lin's second novel.

In England, papers such as The Daily Telegraph[32] and The Guardian[33] ran pieces on him. In the United States, Lin was mentioned on the blogs of New York Magazine,[34] The New Yorker,[35]The New York Times,[36] and Poets & Writers.[37]

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", and summarized "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."[38]

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."[39]

It has been translated to Spanish (Alpha Decay), Italian (Saggiatore), and French (Au Diable Vauvert).

[edit]Taipei (2013)Edit

In August 2011, Lin reported[40] that he had found an agent for his third book, which he described as "a combination of Lorrie Moore’s prose style and tone, Bret Easton Ellis’ sort of reckless and drug-using characters, and Siddhartha’s continually unsuccessful, earnest attempts at some kind of peace or transcendence." Lin told the New York Observer that he plans to complete the novel by Fall 2012 and that he wants it to be "short...something [he] could almost memorize."

On August 15, 2011 Wall Street Journal reported[41] that rights to the unfinished novel had been sold at auction to Vintage.

In an unedited interview published by Thought Catalog on 25 July 2012 Lin confirmed that the novel will be titled "Taipei".[42]

[edit]Muumuu HouseEdit

Lin founded the literary press Muumuu House in late 2008.[43] The press has published collections of poetry and prose by Ellen Kennedy, Brandon Scott Gorrell, and Megan Boyle in print as well as selections from Mira Gonzalez, Spencer Madsen, Timothy Willis Sanders, and others online. Muumuu House is considered one of the hubs of the alt lit movement.


Lin co-founded, with Megan Boyle, the film company MDMAfilms in late 2010.[44] Its feature-length releases, all shot on MacBooks, include a documentary on Bebe Zeva and two feature films titled MDMA and Mumblecore."