A Gmail Chat Book Review of Tao Lin’s Richard Yates

10 Feb

What constitutes illicit sex for a generation with no rules? reads the back of the book jacket.

Richard Yates by Tao Lin. Image via Melville House Publishing, http://www.mhpbooks.com.

“Possible responses to Tao Lin’s novel Richard Yates,” I typed in Gmail chat or possibly on my blog.

“I could be sad about all the talk of Dakota and Haley killing themselves”

“I could pity real-life Dakota Fanning and Haley Joel Osment for having their names dragged through the anxiety disordered mud of central New Jersey”

“I could worry about my teenage little sister who gave me this book and how she must have also spent some hours reading about an obsessive, joyless (except the one instance of Haley Joel Osment smiling, in Florida [yes, the characters full names are used almost exclusively]) relationship in which a man asks a girl for all of her daily activities every day and that is the bulk of their relationship”

“I could feel gratitude for a writer who frees young writers from the interesting yet ultimately limiting nature of constant grammatic policing and thoughtfully literary literature via the device of Gmail chat conversations as dialogue”

“’I should just kill myself’”

“I could chew out the sort of 23-year-old male character/being who chooses to date a 17-year-old female and ignores the precarious power imbalance in their relationship, in fact exacerbating her various disorders by discouraging her from pursuing treatment and frankly being abusive”

“I might question the legal implications of using unrelated, ‘real’ names of people as characters and author as book title, and muse on how these creative commons – or not – issues relate to my own work”

“I could binge-eat and puke à la ‘Dakota Fanning’”

“I could laugh. There were funny parts.”

“I could wish to have a love or love-imitating relationship in which many hand-made goods are exchanged, but probably without the exclusive focus in life of making hand-made goods and emailing photos of stolen organic products”

“I could marvel about how for an ‘exciting new voice in experimental fiction,’ which I had been eager to read or maybe to say I had read, the prose is very straightforward. But not shitty.”

“I will mail the book to my metafiction friend

“I will accept the novel’s disparaging comment on humanity, or at least young humanity in twenty-first century America, and reach out by

updating my ‘Current City’ to ‘Atlanta.’”


Miranda July says:

“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.”


Wheatus/The U. Orchestra of Great Britain says:


One Response to “A Gmail Chat Book Review of Tao Lin’s Richard Yates

  1. thoroughly modern milli vanilli February 13, 2012 at 2:37 am #


    Love this! To be honest, I don’t quite “get” it all, but it’s brilliant.


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