Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tao Lin - you are a little bit happier than i am

Tao Lin

I’m always the last to find out about some things, it seems. And this time, that’s Tao Lin. So I’m making up for lost time this week, down with some flu thing, and Lin’s you are a little bit happier than i am. What to say about this book? It reads like the autobiography of everyone born in the 1980s. It reads fast and veers, and almost means something, then demands that it means nothing. It tries and it doesn’t try very hard. It goes on somewhere between pettiness and terror, like “Howl” morphed into “Whatever.” But with a real person underneath it all, wanting and not wanting to be there, who couldn’t care less and is craving for attention. And that, finally, is what makes this such an interesting book.

“Tao Lin writes from moods that less radical writers would let pass—from laziness, from vacancy, from boredom. And it turns out that his report from these places is moving and necessary, not to mention frequently hilarious.”
—Miranda July

A Tao Lin bio note:
TAO LIN's writing has appeared in the Mississippi Review, the Cincinnati Review, Punk Planet, Bear Parade, Other Voices, Nerve, and Noon. He is the winner of the One Story short story contest and New York University's undergraduate creative writing prize, and is the author of a poetry collection, you are a little bit happier than i am, which won the Action Books prize. His blog is called reader of depressing books (
Go here for an interview: Tao Lin:

Tao Lin: I like people also. I also hate people with an intense but ultimately redemptive passion of ten thousand hamster friends. I hope you understand what I mean. Ha Jin wouldn't. I've enjoyed this interview so far. I like talking about Ha Jin.

I think my blend of emotion and language was inspired by Ha Jin. One of my favorite writers is Ha Jin. I've read his novel War Trash almost one and a half times. It's really nice. I mean it looks nice. It has a good cover.

From you are a little bit happier than i am:

some of my happiest moments in life occur on AOL messenger

i will create a new category
on my instant messenger buddy list

i will call it
‘people i like who don’t like me back’

and i will move your screen name into that group
and i will invite you to my house and show you

and you will say, ‘if i didn’t like you why did i come over’
and you will look at my face
and i will have an honest answer for your question
i will tell you that you came over to be polite

and after a while you will go home
and you won’t call
and i won’t either
and after a while i won’t like you anymore
and after a while we’ll forget each other
and after a while you will be beautiful and alone inside your coffin
and i’ll be cold and alone inside my coffin

Appreciate Me For Everything Good I Have Done In The Past

When you die, the world changes
into a funhouse. The funhouse is far away. It collapses
at the speed of light.

I just made that up.

I live in a high-density urban area.

I am hard-working,
detail-oriented, an excellent multi-tasker.
My demeanor in social situations
can be described as ‘low-level panic attack.’
I am honest, tactful, and ironic.
I enjoy screaming. I think it’s funny when people scream.

I think the Nobel Prize is funny.

“I am going to email a shitload of people tonight.” I think that’s funny.

I feel angry. No I don’t. I am bored.
I don’t understand how a number can be negative. One apple
looks like one apple. What does negative-one apple look like?

The world is stupid.

The world I exist in
is really stupid.

I can prove it

at night. In the park, at night,
I can prove anything.


At 1/25/2008 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once I got over my prejudices, and once I accepted all the absurdity and silliness of his poems, I started to look at what he's saying, beyond the assumption that it's all just a bunch of weird nonsense, and I must say that I underestimated him.

At 1/27/2008 10:48 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

It's an interesting and frustrating book. Intentionally so, I think.

At 9/07/2008 5:17 AM, Blogger ryan said...

the next night we ate whale


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