Feature

Novel of the week: Richard Yates by Tao Lin

Richard Yates is about the disaffection of a 22-year-old and a 16-year-old who meet on the Internet. 

(Melville House, $15)

Tao Lin isn’t yet widely read, but he’s “one of those figures about whom many smart, thinking people feel they must have an opinion,” said Hua Hsu in TheAtlantic.com. The 27-year-old blogger, poet, and novelist writes flat prose filled with desultory self-promotion that makes his writing read like “a marvelous joke with no punch line.” His second full-length novel is not about the novelist Richard Yates but about a 22-year-old and a 16-year-old whose names are both borrowed from Hollywood. Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning meet cute, on the Internet, said Zach Baron in The Village Voice. Soon they are sharing listless sexual encounters and a depressing exchange of text messages and e-mails (“I think I feel indifferent to you right now”). The point seems to be that life is loneliness. “But where most writers see an abyss to be bridged,” Lin just shrugs. A lot of people my age are like that, said John Francisconi in TheRumpus.net. “They find pleasure in the stasis of disaffection.”

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