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100.2 :: ‘taipei’ by tao lin

'taipei' by tao lin // vintage contemporaries, 2k13

100.2

review by stephen michael mcdowell

***ed note: several ‘i am alt lit’ contributors have read this book, and ‘concentrated’ on different elements, etc. read review #1 by josh s, review #2 by austin islam, read review #3 by chris dankland. thankks.***

feel soemthing like ‘an urge’

to engage in ‘more’ abstract thot

'than usual' (or am comfortable with)

when addressing ‘themes’, ‘scenarios’, ‘technique’, ‘etc’

wrt this ‘tome’

//

aside: feel disinterested in including ‘excerpts’ due to extensive use of excerpts in other reviews

don’t think it would ‘add anything’

this review is ‘essentially’ for people already interested in reading the book

//

"Elsewhere Lin name checks Ernest Hemingway, Lydia Davis, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace and Ann Beattie, as if to suggest the difficulty of settling on stylistic referents in an age of over-mediation, of displacement. Lin and his characters are endlessly distributed into the disparate digital (but very real) places of Twitter, Facebook and GChat. Literature is made by people who attune themselves to language and its possibilities, but the limits are set by the world; no matter how imaginative or innovative the work, all we have are the tools we’ve been handed. From drugs, MacBooks and kombucha, Tao Lin has built Taipei, his strongest novel yet."

— Emily M. Keeler’s review at THE GLOBE AND MAIL

//

firstly: here is the structure as i’ve ‘assessed it’

(chapter 1)

intro

exposition

flashback

(chapter 2)

set-up

exposition

'rising arc'

subversion of ‘rising arc’

incursion of a ‘secondary arc’

subversion of the ‘secondary arc’

(chapter 3)

requisite flashback

exposition

(chapter 4)

prolonged ‘major arc’ (or ‘story development’, as it were)

chapter 5)

mild subversion of the ‘major arc’

climax (as per ‘set-up’ in chapter 2)

(chapter 6)

extended falling action (or ‘deterioration’)

exposition (for tone)

outro

//

"In an interview with Lin, Michael Silverblatt says, “Would I be crazy to say that sometimes the style and the strategies involved [in Shoplifting from American Apparel] strike me as trying to look at Buddhism as a prose style?” (KCRW interview). Lin replies that this is indeed accurate and he believes that his “detachment is more …trying to advocate to [himself] a way of living life that is kind of pre-language – just like kind of experiencing things directly, whereas most people view the detachment in this book as [him] just being numb.”"

— from Alan Rossi’s article “Buddhism and Shoplifting: A Few Notes on Tao Lin’s Early Prose Style” at HTMLGIANT

//

secondly: here is ‘my’ opinion of the book

it seems like a novel to me

i enjoyed this novel more than i enjoyed other ‘novel’s in recent memory

most recentlly have read:

action, figure by frank hinton

—shorter, clearer ‘narrative structure’

big sur by jack kerouac 

—vaguer ‘narrrative strcture’, more erratic tone/cadence, more metaphor

grow up by ben brooks 

—clearer ‘naraatice stucture’, more ‘humorous’

best behaviorby noah cicero

—more outwardly analytical re people, social constructs

revolutionary road by richard yates

—different tone, clearer ‘rising/falling arcs’

the great gatsby by f. schott fitzgerald

—more ‘noir-like’ in genre, more emphasis on ‘power struggle’

and ‘rontel’ by sam pink

—more socio-analytical

which are all, thematically/genetically, in keeping with a vague literary ‘tradition’, that, i think

—but don’t know, my okcupid says i’m liekly to be ‘less literary’

than most matches!!—is in the same ‘vague’ tradition

as ‘taipei’, possibly assessed as:

'(mostly) autobiographical (but add 50-100% 'fiction' to the total sum of nonfiction, for effect)) fiction'

//

Taipei by Tao Lin is an ode - or lament - to the way we live now. Following Paul from New York, where he comically navigates Manhattan’s art and literary scenes, to Taipei, Taiwan,  where he confronts his family’s roots, we see one relationship fail, while another is born on the internet and blooms into an unexpected wedding in Las Vegas. Along the way - whether on all night drives up the East Coast, shoplifting excursions in the South, book readings on the West Coast, or ill advised grocery runs in Ohio - movies are made with laptop cameras, massive amounts of drugs are ingested, and two young lovers come to learn what it means to share themselves completely. The result is a suspenseful meditation on memory, love, and what it means to be alive, young, and on the fringe in America, or anywhere else for that matter.”

— Description of the book on Amazon dot com

//

thirdly:

the implementation of ‘style’ in this piece—

tireless ‘literary’ attention paid to coherent/consistent/rhythmic structure or ‘cadence’

—seems a necessary juxtaposition ‘against; the ‘source of the narrative’

since the ‘source of the narrative’ is ‘real life’ instead of ‘the author’s imagination’

both of which are discernibly derivative of ‘an author’s imagination’

i think to question this technique

deeming it ‘a cop-out’ or ‘basic-in-approach’

it is perhaps ‘a misnomer’ 

because taking notes on imagined events,

assessing ‘realistinc detail’ and minutiae,

and ensuring the ‘plot’, as it is understood, ‘makes sense’,

or at least ‘resolves’ to some degree

employing a ‘voice’ or ‘technique’

and tonally consistent ‘filler’ between major arcs or events in the novel

but adding ‘lil deets’ to cause the reader to be like,

'oh sh*t, that happened because of this…'

'i wonder if this has to do with that…'

'i wondered how that'd come 2gether…! [etc]'

seems stylistically indistinguishable from appropriating memories

in this reviewer’s opinion

(see: art imitating life)

//

'real life' is no more or less 'dense' than the human imagination

that being said, tao lin, as he is wont to do

counters ‘the question ‘of whether the book gives credencse to the ‘density of human imagination’ 

by consistently employing metaphor, sometimes  paragraphs of metaphor

almost as a means of imploring ‘the big lit canon’

something like ‘legitimacy’ but probablly more

like

um

[incoherent internal attempt at discerning anything from anything else]

//

imagining tao, while editing ‘taipei’, saying aloud, to ‘the canon’

'LOOK I INCLUDED A PLOT, STRUCTURE,

THEMES, A SET OF CHARACTTERS

RISING AND FALLING ACTION

I EXCLUDED UNNNECESSARY DETAIL

THERE ARE THREE SETTINGS, ONE OF WHICH IS

ONLY REFERRENCED IN FLASHBACK

IF ALL OF THE ‘FILLER’ IS WORDY/SYNTACTICALLY SOUND

 RUN-ONSAND DETAIL ABOUT

DRUHG QUANTITIES AND AAFFECT

IF I USE METAPHOR, LIKE, SH*TLOADS OF METAPHOOR

CAN I  GET IN? PLEASE OH PLEASE O PLEASE

OH PLEASE?’

while maintaining a sh*teating MDMA-assisted grin

//

the syllable ‘break-down’ on the cover

which is glittery

‹‹

TAI

PEI

TAO

LIN

››

and also tao’s mentioning that the book could as ‘easily’ have been titled ‘MacBook’

‹‹

MAC

BOOK

TAO

LIN

››

seem extremely indicative of the minimal however near-algebraic rhythmic syntactical subjugation tao placed himself under in order to give the book the lyrical quality the prose

—the most qualitatively ‘important’ aspect of this book, in my opinion—

a ‘literary affect’

//

don’t ever recall ‘endorsing’ a book in any previous reviews for this cite

but ‘highly encourage’ ppl to read this f**ked up thing

//

With Taipei Tao Lin becomes the most interesting prose stylist of his generation

— Bret Easton Ellis, author of Less Than Zero, ostensibly the ‘previous generation’s Taipei, as blurbed on the reverse of the book