Fiction writer Tao Lin projects his life as a series of boredom-filled blog posts.
by Tao Lin
$14.95 List Price
So I went to a party in Bushwick, Brooklyn, some weeks ago, the height of summer's heat wave. Tao Lin was leaning against an air conditioner. I'd just been asked to review this book—his second novel, Richard Yates. I went over, told him I'd been asked, and offered him the opportunity to write the review himself, which I would submit under my own name. Bookforum would then publish the review, and a day or so later Lin would reveal the truth on his blog, etc.
Lin said he'd think about it, then contacted me the next day to decline. Which proves he's cannier than I'd thought.
I told him that I'd have to write the review in his style, then—submit it for publication and later, when the review came out, claim publicly that Lin wrote it for me. I'd have to write directly but without adverbs, without (illuminating or useful) adjectives. I would have to use regular language, few commas, and no semicolons; when I wrote something particularly hackneyed I'd have to put it between quotation marks. This would all be "work."
This is the work of which Lin's career is made—that plus exhaustive blogging, unstoppable PR, and insipid stunts like the one attempted above. Lin's previous books—a novel, a novella, a collection of stories, and two of poems—are beside the point, and that's the point. The most cogent praise I can give him is that he is the writer who has best understood the possibilities of prose and poetry on the Internet, though I'm not sure that is complimentary. By compulsively maintaining his websites and perpetrating schemes such as selling stock in books yet to be