i haven't blogged in three months. i have been planning 'massive multimedia' blog posts but feel unmotivated and defeated by myself every time i go to work on one. so i thought i would do the >1500 word thing tao lin posted on his blog.
here is a book that i found at my work:
i haven't read 'eeeee eee eeee' (or 'it goes eeeeeeeeeeee') yet. tao, if you want this book, i will send it to you.
2040 words about tao lin
1. my experience with tao's writing
my first exposure to tao lin was through my ex-boyfriend in 2007. he was my boyfriend, not ex-boyfriend, at the time. his co-worker told him he needed to read 'bed,' and he did. then he told me i needed to read 'bed,' and gave me his copy to borrow. i still haven't given it back to him and we don't talk anymore. i think i read 'bed' mostly on an airplane ride to and from chicago, and in my parents' house. on the airplane, i got such a strong sense of 'holy shit' when i was reading it that i think i had to stop a few times to sit back in my seat and stare at the seat in front of me, becoming fully absorbed by the feeling of 'holy shit.'
i felt like 'holy shit' because the way the characters thought and behaved related so strongly to my experience of the world in a really private way, like, i never thought anyone else experienced life in that way. i have always felt kind of bizarre and lonely and like people don't see things the way i do. the characters in 'bed' seemed to focus on small, sort of boring and sort of really complex moments that neither had a negative nor positive impact on them, but still seemed important, and were written in a way that highlighted the absurdity of boredom/the human experience. does this make sense? i remember specifically this one character description of a boy who liked to eat sweet things before he took a nap and wake up with a filmy feeling on his teeth. that image is what i think of when i think of 'bed.' that is a part of 'bed.' that is not really a good example of the thing i was talking about, though. i just like that a lot. i also think of 'crestfallen' when i think of 'bed.'
before my exposure to tao lin, i think i felt pretty indifferent about literature in general. writing has always been something i like to do and feel drawn to for some reason, but i was a creative writing minor mostly just to make my psychology major less tedious. i tried to read dave eggers' 'you shall know our velocity' shortly before i read 'bed' and i remember thinking, 'is this really what people like to read?' i pretty much only liked reading kurt vonnegut, j.d. salinger, and short sci-fi stories. i also liked 'still life with woodpecker' by tom robbins a lot, but nothing else by him.
reading tao's blog also exposed me to richard yates, lorrie moore, lydia davis, jean rhys, joy williams, raymond carver, and frederick barthelme. anything i've read by any of those authors has affected me in a similar way as when i read tao's things. i can't quite articulate why. i think because all of them seem very emotional, analytic, sometimes lonely/depressed, sometimes funny/sarcastic, and either overtly or covertly convey an idea of 'life is something that goes on and here we are in it, what is there to do about that.' they all write about human interactions in ways that i experience human interactions, or ways that i could realistically see myself functioning. i don't know if that's because i experience life similarly to these writers or if they're just really good at writing so i feel convinced by their stories or something.
it doesn't feel to me like tao or any of those writers are concerned with seeming 'significant' in a way that khaled hosseini probably wanted 'the kite runner' to be 'significant.' or the way dave eggers wants to be 'significant.' after reading tao and authors that i affiliate with him, i feel inspired to write things. much of my daily mental activity is composed of thoughts about writing/literature. i am unsure of what took that space in my head before 'literature' did.
after reading 'bed,' i looked at tao's blog and read a lot of it. i remember checking it in heavy rotation along with facebook/email/livejournal/myspace for awhile. during that time, i felt very depressed and meaningless. i was unemployed and living at home, had recently dropped out of college, and only really talked to my boyfriend but felt kind of like a burden on him for that because he was a social person and i wasn't. those things were juxtaposed with a pervasive feeling of aliveness because it seemed like i was constantly discovering other people's blogs/stories/poems (either directly or indirectly from tao's blog) that were similar to things that go on in my head. reading those things made me feel less alone.
i have read probably all of the things tao has had published online. i remember talking to my boyfriend on instant messenger while copying/pasting lines of 'hikikomori' to each other that we liked or made us laugh. then we started writing 'hikikomori'-esque emails to each other. then we gave up.
my friend recently asked me for examples of poetry i like, so i was looking through some of tao's things online and read 'hot amoeba ass' and laughed really loud, alone in my apartment. i don't ever really laugh hard when i'm alone, but i laughed really hard and loud. hot amoeba ass.
2. my thoughts about tao's writing career
tao lin promotes himself in ways that seem attention-seeking and annoying to a lot of people. it seems to me that he does it from a very earnest place of 'i want to have a successful writing career,' though. i think tao's promotional methods/publicity stunts are only perceived as outrageous because they are simple and have a clear intention of self-promotion (and not self-promotion disguised as 'your world will mean more if you read my book,' 'you are the one who is benefitting from buying my book,' 'i am quietly suggesting to you that i require your monetary support and am ready to change your life with my great ideas,' etc).
i feel like his methods make the most sense, but people denounce them because they point out the reality of self-promotion -- that it is, in fact, something in the interest of the self to do. sort of like how people avoid itching a really bad ass itch in public for fear of scrutiny, but it makes the most sense and will be the most rewarding to just itch the ass. i think tao lin is successful in promoting himself because he seems to not care what people will think if he solicits people to write >1500 word essays about him for a free book. he just seems like someone who wants to be successful and is pretty innovative in the ways he goes about getting that success.
when i think/hear/read about the things tao does to promote himself, i get a similar sensation i would if someone told me 'i saw your dad wearing a sombrero in traffic the other day.' it's a very warm and silly feeling. good for tao. good job.
from interviews i have read with tao, he seems to be a very straight-forward person who is very certain of his world views and tries to express them honestly and clearly, when asked. i don't know what the future holds for tao lin. i can imagine him making lots of money and having a really clean, gigantic, minimalist, moby-esque apartment somewhere. i liked in 'sfaa' when sam met moby, because it was really awkward, and from what i've seen of moby (mostly just the moby episode of 'cribs'), he seems similarly ultra-introverted in a way i see tao lin being. kind of like the complete opposite of if jeffrey dahmer and ted bundy ever met, but the same chemistry.
i am excited for 'richard yates' and like the titles 'richard yates' and 'shoplifting from american apparel' probably the most out of any book titles i've seen. i work at a book store so i see a lot of book titles. i feel like tao will probably never stop being disciplined with his actual writing process or innovative with his ways of promotion, and his audience seems to be expanding, so i think success will come naturally to him. every person who i've shown tao's writing to has had a really positive reaction, even people who i initially thought wouldn't like it.
3. my experience with tao as a person
i have met tao two times in real life. when i first met him i had an unintentionally animated (or something) reaction to his tattoos and he looked visibly afraid. later that night he offered me some guacamole, plain, and i had an unintentionally confused/adverse reaction to that. thinking about these reactions makes me laugh a little. i think he had an idea that i had a desk job or something.
at a barbeque/reading the next day, there was a lot of free food. i remember feeling impressed and worried about tao's ability to eat so much free food. a lot of it was meat, i think. i had a perception that tao was maybe a militant vegan, but i was relieved that he wasn't one of those 'hardcore vegan assholes.'
later, a few of us were standing outside drinking beer. we were all standing really close to the door. the cops came and wrote me, brandon, chelsea, and someone i don't know tickets for public drinking. they wanted to write buttercup up but he was underage and really drunk and passed out somewhere inside. then a cop was asking if we saw a 'male, black' anywhere. i think i laughed and people repeated 'male black' a lot. buttercup is a black male.
the cops got all of our licenses and people were kind of quietly submitting to authority with a lot of disdain. as this was happening, tao asked me if i wanted a hot dog and put one on the grill for me. the ticket-giving process was taking an unusually long time. at some point tao said, 'megan, your hotdog is ready.' he brought me my hotdog. i asked him where the condiments were and he told me. the cops were aware of this happening, i think. i think we were both laughing a little. then i think tao went inside. the cops just sat in their car for a long time, doing nothing.
when he came to baltimore for a reading, we went out to eat with a group of baltimore writer people who i didn't know. the people all seemed to know each other well enough to tease each other. they were friendly. it was nice going out with them. tao and i sat next to each other and were mostly quiet, but i think tao was a little bit quieter than me. his food was really spicy and he asked for olive oil. the olive oil made it less spicy. i gave him a ride back to his hotel and we talked about internet-related things.
tao seems like a kind, quiet person who doesn't move his eyebrows very much. i felt like i shouldn't make any sudden movements around him. i am always worried i will trip and fall down, but i think i felt an extra awareness of not wanting to trip and fall down around tao lin. he let me and two friends i was traveling with stay at his/zachary's/jamie's apartment in new york, which was really unexpected and generous. his girlfriend, sarah, is really nice and writes comics which i like a lot and would recommend highly to most people. tao, zachary, jamie, sarah, brandon, chelsea, miles, and pretty much everyone i met that weekend seemed very welcoming and like they wanted me to feel comfortable and didn't think i was an asshole. i have really warm, positive feelings about that weekend.
i feel like i should talk about 'sfaa' because i have read it twice and have only mentioned it briefly in this blog post. i already have a lot more than 1500 words. how did i write this much. what the fuck. i liked 'sfaa' a lot. i will review it on amazon soon and that will be where i talk about it.