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Richard Yates by Tao Lin
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Richard Yates

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Richard Yates by Tao Lin
Sep 07, 2010 | ISBN 9781935554820

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  • Sep 07, 2010 | ISBN 9781935554820

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“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 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
“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.’”

Praise for Tao Lin’s Previous Work
“Trancelike and often hilarious […] Lin’s writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian […] The text is conscientiously scoured of narrative ‘purpose’, ‘characterisation’, and anything else that would smack of novelistic bullshit. What is left is an attitude, a mood, a comically despairing abandoning of literary ego.”
The Guardian
“A deadpan literary trickster.”
New York Times
“A revolutionary.”
The Stranger
“Deeply smart, funny, and head-over-heels dedicated.”
—Sam Anderson, New York Magazine
“Fascinating and articulate in a way that people my age (incl. um, like, you know, myself) rarely are.”
—Emily Gould
“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
“Tao Lin’s sly, forlorn, deadpan humor jumps off the page…his prose retains the energy of an outlaw […] will delight fans of everyone from Mark Twain to Michelle Tea.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Stimulating and exciting […] It doesn’t often happen that a debuting writer displays not only irrepressible talent but also the ability to undermine the conventions of fiction and set off in new directions. Tao Lin, who is 24, does it.”
San Francisco Bay Guardian
“[Shoplifting from American Apparel] is scathingly funny for being so spare […] just might be the future of literature.”
Austin Chronicle
“[Shoplifting from American Apparel] is the purest example so far of the minimalist aesthetic as it used to be enunciated.”
—Michael Silverblatt, Bookworm
“[Shoplifting from American Apparel] is somehow both the funniest and the saddest book I’ve read in a long time.”
—Michael Schaub, Bookslut
“Full of melancholy, tension, and hilarity […] Lin is a master of pinpointing the ways in which the Internet and text messages can quell loneliness, while acknowledging that these faceless forms of communication probably created that loneliness to begin with.”
Boston Phoenix
“You don’t think, ‘I like this guy,’ or ‘I really dislike this guy.’ You think, ‘huh.’ […] Camus’ The Stranger or ‘sociopath?'”
Los Angeles Times
“Prodigal, unpredictable…impossible to ignore.”
Paste Magazine
“A master of understatement–or, rather, of statement.”
Vice Magazine
“Very Funny.”
USA Today
“[Eeeee Eee Eeee] is a wonderfully deadpan joke.”
The Independent
Eeeee Eee Eeee is an un-self-conscious yet commanding tour de force.”
“[A] remarkable novel.”
—Steve Mitchelmore, Ready Steady Book
“Tao Lin’s sentences are so good they sometimos make me shudder.”
“Tao Lin’s fiction will kick your ass and say thank you afterwards!”
—Amy Fusselman, author of The Pharmacist’s Mate
“What’s more remarkable than a writer who manages to release two critically acclaimed books at once? One who does it at the age of 23.”
The Boston Globe
“[Lin] is twice ironic, twice earnest, but also twice nihilistic, twice moral. Eeeee Eee Eeee’s characters wallow in their depression and/or are cleverly detached from that depression.”
Rain Taxi
“Writing about being an artist makes most contemporary artists self-conscious, squeamish and arch. Lin, however, appears to be comfortable, even earnest, when his characters try to describe their aspirations (or their shortcomings) […] Purposefully raw.”
Time Out New York
“Lin’s sympathetic fascination with the meaning of life is full of profound and often hilarious insights.”
Publishers Weekly
“A harsh and absurd new voice in writing. Employing Raymond Carver’s poker face and Lydia Davis’s bleak analytical mind, Lin renders ordinary—but tortured—landscapes of failed connections among families and lovers that will be familiar to anyone who has been unhappy […] the prose is poetic and downright David Lynch-ian
Time Out Chicago
“Tao Lin is the most distinctive young writer I’ve come upon in a long time: the most intrepid, the funniest, the strangest. He is completely unlike anyone else.”
—Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening
“Loved it. […] Shoplifting From American Apparel stands out. And maybe it’s similar, if stylistically opposite, from We Did Porn in this way. Both books are necessary, written for people who don’t have many books to choose from. They’re not competing with the rest of the books on the shelf. They’re on a different shelf where there aren’t too many books.On that same shelf you’ll find Ask The Dust, Frisk, The Fuck Up, The Basketball Diaries, Jesus’ Son, several books by Michelle Tea, Last Exit to Brooklyn, and Chelsea Girls. It’s a good shelf to be on, I think. Young, urban, self-sure, engaged.”
—Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby and The Adderall Diaries

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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