This post is not about Sam Pink. It is about Tao Lin.
Hello, Tao Lin.
This post is the long-awaited (by me) Tao Lin post.
A long time ago, I would sometimes read Tao Lin's blog. I was amused by his antics, but I thought his writing style was annoying.
A while later, Mike Young contacted me over Myspace. We ended up hanging out. He talked about how he liked Tao Lin's writing.
A couple of weeks later, I went into a bookstore and saw Eeeee Eee Eeee on the shelf. I picked it up, read a few pages, liked it a lot. I bought it, took it home, read it.
At the time (and maybe still), it ended up being one of my two favorite novels this year. This happened during a phase when I was having trouble finding fiction that I enjoyed.
Soon after, I noticed that I was writing fiction that was similar to Tao Lin's. This was unintentional. It was very fun to write this way. It was easy. I was usually relatively happy with the end product.
Eeeee Eee Eeee's style is deadpan, which I've always done to a certain degree because I love the work of Raymond Chandler. Except Raymond Chandler uses a lot of crazy-awesome similes, which Tao Lin doesn't use. Eeeee Eee Eeee uses short, clipped sentences, which I had never used before. I don't think Tao Lin uses contractions very often, which used to read awkwardly to me, but now I do the same thing without thinking about it.
Eeeee Eee Eeee does not contain a plot arc. The book would have been unreadable if a less talented writer had written it. But playfulness of Tao Lin's writing makes it work.
The writing in Eeeee Eee Eeee is similar to Anne Beattie's Chilly Scenes of Winter (which I also liked), but Eeeee Eee Eeee is funnier and more fun to read.
I think there might be a lot of repetition in Eeeee Eee Eeee.
The cult pop musician, Momus, recently wrote a blog entry about Tao Lin. He said that reading Tao Lin makes you want to write like him (and he was glad that he didn't discover Tao Lin until after he finished writing his novel). I never thought of it that way. Reading Tao Lin didn't make me want to write like him. I did this unintentionally.
I believe Tao Lin's writing is infectious. Tao Lin is a virus.
I was not the only writer who had caught the bug. There is Tao Lin-esque fiction appearing in journals all over the internet. Some of it is good, more of it is bad. No one writes like Tao Lin better than Tao Lin himself. The stories by the other authors are not usually focused on plot. I feel I would have enjoy them more if they were.
I am in the middle of writing a novella (or maybe a short novel). I haven't worked on it in a long time. I am on a hiatus.
I was afraid the writing in the novella was too much like Tao Lin's. I thought it worked well though because there was a plot arc.
Mike Young doesn't think the novella reads like Tao Lin. This makes me happy. He says the writing in my blog reads a little like Tao Lin's. I'm ok with that. Blogging isn't as important to me. It's mostly about having a good time.
Mike also said that he had to make an effort not to write like Tao Lin after reading him.
Tao Lin is a liberator.
Before I read Tao Lin, it would sometimes take me an hour to write a sentence. Writing was rarely fun. It felt like work. Sometimes it felt like torture. I liked the end product more than my recent stuff, but I like the writing process a lot more now. I think that's more important. It makes me happy to write. It is now fun to write. This is the way it should be.
I do miss my old writing style though. I read a little bit of my older work tonight. I liked it a lot. It made me sad that I don't write this way anymore.
I used to write in a way that was similar to authors like Mark Leyner and Steve Aylett. These authors are trying to keep their readers in a state of perpetual delight. They strive for a joke in every sentence. Hundreds of ideas on every page. They don't want to waste the reader's time. A lot of the writing in their books is irrelevant to their plots (which Leyner has very little of). But still, the writing does not seem like filler because it always amuses.
I loved these books. They were perfect books. I was trying to write for a similar audience. To write this way, you have to strive for perfection.
I tried to get Steve Aylett to write a blurb for my novel. He refused, but he was nice about refusing. He said something like how it reminded him too much of his own work. That he was feeling depressed lately. That other people would like the book.
The thought that I was writing in a style that was similar to Steve Aylett's never bothered me because it's such hard goddam work.
The thought of writing in a style that is similar to Tao Lin's bothers me because it's just so easy to do. When I was eating breakfast with Mike Young and we were talking about this, he said this while I was thinking it.
Sometimes I think I have some sort of weird psychic connection with Mike Young because he knows exactly what I'm talking about whenever I say something really non-specific like, "I'm thinking about going to that place" or "What about doing that thing?" I say things like this a lot. I don't mean to. It makes me sound like a mobster.
Anyway, Tao Lin. After finishing Eeeee Eee Eeee, I read all of his other stuff.
I wasn't crazy about his story collection, Bed. It was ok. The stories read like better versions of the usual dull stuff that I see in academic-y lit journals.
I loved his poetry collection, you are a little happier than i am.
I started writing poetry after that even though I've never had much of an interest in doing that.
Damn you, Tao Lin.
My poetry phase didn't last long. It was around the time I started this blog.
I thought Tao Lin's next poetry collection was ok. It had its moments.
And I loved his story collection on Bear Parade: Today The Sky is Blue and White with Bright Blue Spots and a Small Pale Moon and I Will Destroy Our Relationship Today.
I also read his blog. I can never think of anything to comment about on it.
Tao Lin: I would like you to describe the series of facial expressions that you experienced while reading this blog entry.
Shit, statcounter tells me that he probably already found this entry via google before I updated it with this question. Now I will never know. Probably.