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Shoplifting from American Apparel (Contemporary Art of the Novella)by Tao Lin
"Shoplifting is too dour to be twee, but it shares an affected childishness with bands like The Moldy Peaches and it has a put-on weirdness reminiscent of Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You. There is no universal experience here, but a privacy and a particularity to Lin's writing as if the book were written for five people. And at the same time Lin as a writer seems to be secondary to Lin as a microcelebrity artman." Katie Nolfi, Bookslut.com (read the entire Bookslut.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
Set mostly in Manhattan — although also featuring Atlantic City, Brooklyn, GMail Chat, and Gainsville, Florida — this autobiographical novella, spanning two years in the life of a young writer with a cultish following, has been described by the author as "A shoplifting book about vague relationships, 2 parts shoplifting arrest, 5 parts vague relationship issues," and "An ultimately life-affirming book about how the unidirectional nature of time renders everything beautiful and sad."
From VIP rooms in hip New York City clubs to central booking in Chinatown, from New York University's Bobst Library to a bus in someone's backyard in a college-town in Florida, from Bret Easton Ellis to Lorrie Moore, and from Moby to Ghost Mice, it explores class, culture, and the arts in all their American forms through the funny, journalistic, and existentially-minded narrative of someone trying to both not be a bad person and find some kind of happiness or something, while he is driven by his failures and successes at managing his art, morals, finances, relationships, loneliness, confusion, boredom, future, and depression.
"The Internet has spawned a generation exceedingly more awkward, apathetic and lost than any that has come before — at least, this seems to be the message and intention of Lin's underwhelming novella (after Eeeee Eee Eeee and Bed). Sam, a young writer with 'good rankings on Amazon,' works at an organic vegan restaurant and spends much of his time checking e-mails and instant messaging with his equally detached friends while wandering downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. There is, indeed, the shoplifting of a T-shirt (and, later, earphones), the acts — both of which end in Sam's arrest — motivated by a need for 'variety.' Though Lin strives to paint a portrait of a generation of disaffected youth 'caught in the soft blue light of Internet Explorer,' this offers little more than lackadaisical pop culture reportage that reads mostly like a diary rendered in third person." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Tao Lin writes from moods that less radical writers would let pass — from laziness, from vacancy, from boredom....[H]is report from these places is moving and necessary, not to mention frequently hilarious." Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You
"Full of melancholy, tension, and hilarity..." Boston Phoenix
A funny, pitch-perfect autobiographical novel that reads like The Graduate meets Girls, with a freshness of language and outlook that brings to mind The Catcher in the Rye, by the creator of the popular Tumblr "Pitchfork Review Reviews."
David is a freshly minted NYU grad whos working a not-quite-entry-level job, falling in love, and telling his parents hes studying for the LSAT. He starts a Tumblr blog, typing out posts on his BlackBerry under his desk—a blog that becomes wildly popular and brings him to the attention of major media (The New York Times) as well as the White House. But his outward fame doesnt quell his confusion about the world and his direction in it.
This semiautobiographical debut is a coming-of-age story perfect for our time. In Sense of Wonder author Gideon Lewis-Krauss words, “If Tao Lin had been born to Gary Shteyngarts parents and spent his early twenties slaving for pageviews at NewYorker.com, he would have written something like this, the Bright Lights, Big City of the click-here-now generation.”
The inmate with a mop held back the inmate without a mop.
Set mostly in Manhattan—although also featuring Atlantic City, Brooklyn, GMail Chat, and Gainsville, Florida—this autobiographical novella, spanning two years in the life of a young writer with a cultish following, has been described by the author as “A shoplifting book about vague relationships,” “2 parts shoplifting arrest, 5 parts vague relationship issues,” and “An ultimately life-affirming book about how the unidirectional nature of time renders everything beautiful and sad.”
From VIP rooms in hip New York City clubs to central booking in Chinatown, from New York University’ s Bobst Library to a bus in someone’s backyard in a college-town in Florida, from Bret Easton Ellis to Lorrie Moore, and from Moby to Ghost Mice, it explores class, culture, and the arts in all their American forms through the funny, journalistic, and existentially-minded narrative of someone trying to both “not be a bad person” and “find some kind of happiness or something,” while he is driven by his failures and successes at managing his art, morals, finances, relationships, loneliness, confusion, boredom, future, and depression.
The Contemporary Art of the Novella series is designed to highlight work by major authors from around the world. In most instances, as with Imre Kertész, it showcases work never before published; in others, books are reprised that should never have gone out of print. It is intended that the series feature many well-known authors and some exciting new discoveries. And as with the original series, The Art of the Novella, each book is a beautifully packaged and inexpensive volume meant to celebrate the form and its practitioners.
About the Author
Tao Lin was born in 1983, and raised in Orlando, Florida. He is the poetry editor for 3 a.m. magazine, and proprietor of the book blog ReaderofDepressingBooks.com. His stories and poems have appeared in Mississippi Review, Cincinnati Review, Other Voices, Punk Planet, and many other magazines. In 2007 Melville House published his first two works of fiction, the short story collection Bed, and the novel Eeeee Eee Eeee, simultaneously. In 2008, Lin published his poetry collection, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
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