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Richard Yates by Tao Lin

Richard Yates

Richard Yates by Tao Lin
Sep 07, 2010 | 208 Pages
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    Sep 07, 2010 | 208 Pages

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    Sep 07, 2010 | 208 Pages

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“[G]enuinely funny…accurate, often filthy dispatches on what it is to be young and pushing against the world.”
—Charles Bock, The New York Times

“Lin captures certain qualities of contemporary life better than many writers in part because he dispenses with so much that is expected of current fiction.”
David Haglund, The London Review of Books

Richard Yates is neither pretentious nor sneering nor reflexively hip. It is simply a focused, moving, and rather upsetting portrait of two oddballs in love.”
—Danielle Dreillinger, The Boston Globe

“[A] batty and precisely penned novel….[Tao Lin] has, in methodically stacked increments, become a legitimate writing presence.”
Carrie Battan, The Boston Phoenix

“[Lin’s] lean and often maniacal sentences propel the work forward with a slanted momentum. What first seems like a stock tale of romance gone sour evolves into a parable about the fickleness of human desire and the futility of detachment when it comes to love.”
Time Out New York

Richard Yates is a moving, very funny, discomforting, and heartbreakingly life-affirming meditation on extremes—extreme alienation, extreme intimacy, extreme confusion, extreme expectations—that reads like a meticulously and lovingly crafted collaboration between a weirder Ernest Hemingway and a more philosophically-minded Jean Rhys.”
James Frey, author of Bright Shiny Morning and A Million Little Pieces

Richard Yates is hilarious, menacing, and hugely intelligent. Tao Lin is a Kafka for the iPhone generation. He has that most important gift: it’s impossible to imagine anyone else writing like he does and sounding authentic. Yet he has already spawned a huge school of Lin imitators. As precocious and prolific as he is, every book surpasses the last. Tao Lin may well be the most important writer under thirty working today.”
—Clancy Martin, author of How To Sell

“[Richard Yates] is like a ninety-foot pigeon. You’ve never seen anything like it before, and yet it is somehow exactly like the world we live in.”
—Daniel Handler, author of Adverbs

“It would be easy to say that Richard Yates is Tao Lin’s best book yet. Others have said it. Plainly, however, it’s not—Richard Yates only proves that Tao’s work, as it should, undoes any pretensions to ‘best’ or ‘worst.’”

“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.”
—Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You

“Do you read Tao Lin and think ‘I love this! What is it?’ Perhaps it is the curious effect of a radically talented, fecund and tender mind setting down a world sans sense or consequence.”
—Lore Segal, author of the Pulitzer-Prize nominated Shakespeare’s Kitchen

 “Fascinating and articulate in a way that people my age (incl. um, like, you know, myself) rarely are.”
—Emily Gould, author of And The Heart Says Whatever
“Prodigal, unpredictable…impossible to ignore.”
Paste Magazine
“A master of understatement–or, rather, of statement.”
Vice Magazine

“A deadpan literary trickster.”
The New York Times

“Lin’s fiction is a wonderfully deadpan joke.”
The Independent

“Deeply smart, funny, and heads-over-heels dedicated.”
—Sam Anderson, New York Magazine

“[A] parable about the fickleness of human desire and the futility of detachment when it comes to love.”
Time Out New York

“Lin’s sympathetic fascination with the meaning of life is full of profound and often hilarious insights.”
Publishers Weekly

“Meet literature’s Net-savvy new star.”

“There is danger and sadness in his work, but not defeat.”
 —Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

Author Q&A

How would you summarize Richard Yates to potential readers if didn’t write it but were a publicist paid to promote it?
In Richard Yates—Tao Lin’s second novel—a 22-year-old writer named Haley Joel Osment who lives in a 3-person apartment on Wall Street meets, on the internet, a 16-year-old high school student named Dakota Fanning who has had a history of involvement with older men. After talking for hundreds of hours on Gmail chat, through email, and by cell phone Haley Joel Osment travels two hours by train to visit Dakota Fanning in rural New Jersey where they sit by the Delaware River and walk around and eat Chinese food. Haley Joel Osment says he doesn’t want to go back to New York City and that he feels happy in Dakota Fanning’s town, which he describes as “great weather, [expletive]ed people,” in part due to the number of people that “don’t have to go to school anymore [due to severe depression],” according to Dakota Fanning, who says, with amounts of humor and self-awareness, that she herself is severely depressed but still has to go to school.
The next few months, in secret from Dakota Fanning’s mother, whom Dakota Fanning repeatedly lies to and whom they both “fear,” to some degree, Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning visit each other dozens of times, with many “close calls” of being discovered. Finally, as the relationship begins to become quarrelsome and increasingly fraught and out-of-control, Dakota Fanning’s mother finds out about Haley Joel Osment and aggressively confronts him by phone before gradually welcoming his presence in her and Dakota Fanning’s lives, eventually inviting him to live with her and Dakota Fanning in their two-story house, resulting in the daily and close-quartered interactions between a chronically lying and bulimic Dakota Fanning, an increasingly distrustful and confused Haley Joel Osment, and an overworked and screaming single-mother of two with a full-time job who, at one point, responds to a question by saying that she doesn’t know the answer and that “[her] body is about to shut down.”
How do you view Richard Yates in terms of its seemingly autobiographical elements?
I view Richard Yates as something created to have a certain effect, and I wrote and edited it in service of that, using anything, ideally, as a means, regardless of whether it “really happened,” if certain people would think certain things about me, or [anything else]. Another way of saying that, I think, is that I tried to focus, firstly, on writing “what I want to read”—on having the only influence, ideally, on my writing choices be something like “what book with exactly what characteristics do I most feel like reading right now?” I say “ideally” because I don’t view it as possible to be 100% uninfluenced by things outside of that. I also think that “what I want to read” changes, to some degree, every moment, and at times can contradict what it was five days or five months ago. But I view Richard Yates as a novel, in the same manner I would view a fantasy book about dragons and wizards as a novel, above all (as opposed to how I would view a nonfiction book as completely a nonfiction book, and would write it differently than I would a novel), in that I wanted to use anything as a means toward “what I want to read” and did not want to write it for confessional, diary-like, sociological, financial, historical, “rhetorical,” or any other reasons.
Did you study or think about any other books for guidance or inspiration while writing Richard Yates?
The End of The Story by Lydia Davis and The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. To a lesser degree, maybe, Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys.
What was the writing process like for Richard Yates? How long did it take to write?
I wrote a short story in an early version of the “prose style” of Richard Yates around February 2006. I began writing things that are in Richard Yates, in different form, around June 2006. I worked on it “idly” (1-4 hours a day 70-80% of days) until around March 2008 when I worked on it “pretty hard” (2-6 hours a day for 90% of days) until around August 2008 (at this point I had a “working” final draft, in that I felt the structure/length would be very similar to the published structure/length) when I sold shares in its royalties, gaining $12,000, and stopped working at my restaurant job, and worked on Richard Yates “very hard” (6-10 hours a day for 98% of days) until around October 2008, finishing what I felt at the time was a final draft (though knowing, to some degree, that I would work on it much more still). The next 15 months I worked on it 4-6 more times, each time 6-10 hours a day for 15-25 consecutive days. In mid-June I edited the advanced copy (“galley”) ~50 hours in 4 days. The final draft was completed some time in early July 2010.

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