Tao Lin gave an under-publicized reading at Red and Black cafe on Tuesday night. The young, award-winning writer drew a crowd of just over ten people, delivering excerpts from his recently published work, Shoplifting From American Apparel. Much has been made of Tao’s shameless self-promotion antics, which I tentatively pose as a play on fame-seeking and celebrity culture: the author friend-requested me fifteen minutes after I RSVP’d to Red and Black Cafe’s “Tao Lin Reading” Facebook Event. His prose often takes the form of generation Y’s preferred online communication medium, Gchat, and possesses a forlorn, painfully self-aware, darkly humorous ennui.I was able to catch up with Tao on facebook chat this week.
Method Magazine: Hi Tao. Thanks for doing this. What would you like to say, right off the bat, about Shoplifting From American Apparel?
Tao Lin: It is my least embarrassing work, in terms of tone and prose style. I encourage people who don’t want to feel self-conscious about my tone or prose style to read SFAA.
MM: You are a blogger and a published writer. What is your philosophy regarding new media vs. print journalism?
TL: I don’t have a philosophy about that.
MM: How often do you google yourself, Tao? Be honest! It’s no big deal if it’s a lot. I heard that every time we google ourselves an angel gets its wings.
TL: I Google myself probably 15-30 times a day with the setting on “last 24 hours” and “sorted by date.”
MM: You often write about the Internet, and often about detachment. Do you feel they are related?
TL: I don’t think so. Buddhists seem to practice detachment and they existed before the internet. Fernando Pessoa and Joy Williams write about detachment and were born in something like 1899 and 1943. Lydia Davis writes about detachment and was born in the 40’s.
MM: What’s next for you? Or, what are you working on now?
TL: I’m about to “chug” ~20 ounces of iced coffee. I have a MSWord file called “new prose-3″ on another screen and I’m going to look at that. Currently it’s probably ~7000 words of edited but unorganized fiction.
MM: Please outline the most awkward moment you have had recently.
TL: Hm. Just thought for a while. Couldn’t think of something. Maybe just me sitting here.
MM: If your mind was a search engine what would be the most popular searches?
TL: “What am I going to do,” “now what,” “what should I eat,” or “what should I do.”
MM: Lion or Fox?
TL: Lions seem powerful and intelligent. Foxes seem frail and manipulative and like they’re unreliable/lying “sacks of shit” sort of. Lions, therefore, I think.