Front Page Spotlight: Tao Lin

Tao Lin is an American author, artist, and poet. His first few books were big with readers of alt-lit, a lesser-known genre of fiction and poetry. The success of his most recent book (Taipei) has meant that more and more people are reading his books. He was recently profiled in The Listener. You can also read a good interview with him in The Observer.

His books (along with much of his other writing online) are written with a kind of studied carelessness that has been called, among other terms, ‘Affectless Realism’. Lin is best-known for this. You can get a sense of what it is if you read in the Observer article linked above.

We hold four of Lin’s novels at the library. They are:

Eeeee eee eeee : A novel

Shoplifting from American Apparel
Richard Yates

(If you have read Tao Lin you might also like to read Marie Calloway’s What Purpose Did I Serve in your Life.)

Alt Lit

Alt lit is a relatively new form of literature that is inspired by the internet and is, mostly, published online as poems, image macros, videos, and so on.

It is very cool but isn’t for everyone; like Vice Magazine writer Josh Baines who proclaimed Alt-Lit is for boring, infantile narcissists. “When I say “alt-lit”, I’m referring to a community of young writers who use the internet as their main method to promote their work. There are short story writers, novelists, poets and lots of people who make image macros worse than the kind of sincere Ben-Harper-lyrics-over-a-picture-of-a-mountain your 13-year-old cousin posts to Facebook when the boy she likes doesn’t text her back. Artforum describes it as, “a kind of pointedly botched poetry whose writers cultivate bad spelling, weird punctuation, sincere statements of the obvious and a spontaneous expressivity evocative of erratic pubescent passions,” which is a very kind way to put it.”

If you are interested in going on a literary adventure down an un-charted path why not give it a go? Wellington Libraries Alt-Lit is finding itself at home in multiple locations. You’ll find genre champion Tao Lin in our fiction collection, a variety of Alt-Lit styling lurks in our zines collection and two new books have recently been added to our (expansive-) collection of poetry. Both are self-published by alt lit poet Steve Roggenbuck, whose style of writing is influenced by E. E. Cummings, Walt Whitman, flarf and new sincerity.

Roggenbuck’s poetry is positive, boosting, and makes you feel excited to be alive. It is also chronically misspelled (like, INCREDIBLY so); “bad writing” is a meaningless phrase that creates hierarchy where it is not appropriate (that’s a quote from his work If u dont love the moon by the way).

Here’s something from that same book:

“every single human is sad
not necesarily this moment
but like recuringly sad
boost” [SIC]