LISTEN > Tao Lin on Taipei, the face-down generation, and romance


Tao Lin‘s latest book is the novel Taipei – the sixth after releases such as Eeee Eee Eeee, Shoplifting From American Apparel and Richard Yates. He’s also described at the ritalin kid – his style is almost autistic, stitled and inspired by the dry short wit of a twitter post but his writing is also beautiful, haunting and careful as much as it is detached and isolating.

He is a writer who is everywhere at the moment and he speaks to us live from Brisbane. Tao will also be joining Wilfred Brandt at Alaska Projects this Wednesday, 7pm.


Bukowski: Born Into This


wet breath extends/the limits of the room

the paper-boy drive-by/cuts a deadly arc/through the sleeping dark

- image by Todd Hido line by me.

All that matters is that you believe what you write is special. And that you dare to write great stuff, and accept that half of it will be horse shit, every single day. Write something self-pitying and outrageous and unhinged. Write something melancholy and defeated. Write about a novelist who thought he was special, and then some bad reviews almost killed him. Because ultimately, even if you’re anointed the greatest living author, no one else cares nearly as much as you do. You’re the only one who really, really gives a fuck. So please yourself. Write what you love.

Heather Havrilesky

Contently: Platform For Publishers And Freelance Writers

Contently‘s founders, Joe Coleman, Shane Snow and David Goldberg, launched the site in open beta in April 2011. The New York City-based start-up is a platform for journalists and bloggers to manage their freelance careers and publishers to source professional writers. The “anti-content-farm” is optimized for brands and forward-thinking agencies who want to commission magazine-quality writing.

On writing: Kurt Vonnegut

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

- from the 99 percent

Hi, Adrian Tomine!

On Wednesday night, Comic superstar Adrian Tomine had a signing at (the awesome) Desert Island in Williamsburg to launch Optic Nerve 12. I won’t pretend to be any kind of expert in the graphic novel realm, but in the case of Optic Nerve, I’m a major fangirl.

I distinctly remember the first time I came across it – a friend was having a big sale/clear-out of his record store, and there was a copy of an early issue on the coffee table (not for sale). I opened it to a random page, and then had to sit down to read the next page, and the next… I spent the next hour ignoring everyone and everything around me. I couldn’t put it down.

There’s something so captivating and honest about his characters, and you end up reading the spaces around them as much as their expressions or words. So it was amazing to meet him in person and have a chat to him while he drew this for me, and customised another book for a friend. It’s awesome to meet your heroes and discover they’re just as approachable, sincere and funny as you imagined they’d be.

Genius of the day: Victor Pelevin

As for the point where writing no longer interests me—I reached it for the first time five minutes after I had started to write my first short story. But on the sixth minute I felt that writing interested me again. If we take this to be my cycle, I reach this point approximately twelve times every hour that I dedicate to writing. So I don’t have to imagine reaching it, I know it very well. But this point is never the final one. I think there’s no final point at all. Life is a bitch, and then you die. Death is a bitch, and then you are born. Writing is very much like this, as it is living multiple short lives within your longer one.

- from BOMB

Let’s Bury the Not-a-Word Myth

Often, people just don’t trust their own (or other people’s) ability to use affixes, even though it’s the nature of prefixes, suffixes, and infixes to be versatile. In fact, affixes are so versatile that I can use one of each type in the word “pre-Mayan-freakin’-pocalypse,” which I just made up to describe 2011. As far as I know, “pre-Mayan-freakin’-pocalypse” has never been used before, but guess what? It’s a word. In fact, words like that are a huge part of why I enjoy writing and thinking about language. Without such Lego-like word-making power, we would be stuck talking about blizzards and snowstorms and never hear about a snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, or—more recently—snownado. Affixes are useful tools for making real words—even if they’re not in a dictionary or smiled upon by the chain-rattling ghosts of our sixth grade English teachers.

Fear has a lot to do with this topic, I reckon. Besides ghosts and English teachers, most of us fear chaos. That fear drives us to comforting ideas like, “There are real words and fake words, and all the real words are in ‘the dictionary.’” But the world is a helter-skelter place, especially in the lexicon. Dictionaries can never keep up with our ever-changing world of words, so we have to trust ourselves. We should listen to McKean, former editor of the New Oxford American Dictionary, who memorably wrote: “Being in the dictionary is not a badge of honor. People aren’t limited to words I’ve managed to capture and pin down. A dog doesn’t have to be registered with the American Kennel Association to be a dog. It still fetches your slippers; it just isn’t pedigreed.”

- from Let’s Bury the Not-a-Word Myth in GOOD

George Orwell: “Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible…”

In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one’s words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally


… and I still expect to be deferred to
To get in free with a crowd
So I don’t go to places where I have to pay
Sure I miss out on a lot but there was a time
When every doorman in town knew me as an ornament
Wherever I stood
Even though I’m not on the A list anymore
And don’t even get invited to the B parties
I’m still treated well where being
A former underground movie star
Still carries a little weight
I can still turn on the charm
And find a small but enthusiastic audience
Where the star of a more elegant time
Is still appreciated once in a while
By the fossil hunters
I am no longer sought after by the great hostesses
The truth is I don’t care anymore
I’ve seen them come and go
The addresses change but the guest list
Remains the same
The rich are the worst
And the very rich the very worst
They only want the Nobel Prize winners
The Academy Award winners
They are like little kids when they meet someone famous
Or someone even more rich then them
Because the dreams of the poor are only exaggerated
into the grotesque by the rich
Yes those great hostesses who purport to be lion tamers
End up being nothing but head hunters
Laughed at behind their backs
But who wouldn’t
Yeah, it’s a vulgar sprint for the famous
And the nouveau cute who feed to them
All those pretty young kids thrown to the vampires
Some vanish and the lucky ones
Become vampires themselves
I didn’t – that’s all
It’s all right to joke about it
But my stomach turns when I have to wait
In line outside some posh nightspot
And watch my poor friends led like tugboats
While one of those drunken fiends
Prods them into a limousine
What will it get them?
A few grants for a pathetic art project?
This year’s pet? Society’s darling?
You think they’d say “Hi” to try to get me in
But it Le Monde, dearie
You know who you are
All you sycophants and grant hustlers
I will never apply for a grant
Let me starve!
I must look out for my biography
I may be a pariah but I am still
And always will be a living legend
I’d rather starve

Listen to him read ‘Rene Ricard, Famous at 20′ (2:53)<

- from Dennis Cooper’s blog.