cover image you are a little bit happier than i am

you are a little bit happier than i am

Gunnar Bjoerling, Gunnar Bjorling, . . Action Books, $14 (150pp) ISBN 978-0-9765692-5-1

Chatty, frivolous, impatient, depressed, alienated, lovelorn and prone to outbursts, the poems in 24-year-old Tao Lin's print debut (another collection appears online) will appeal to the reader's inner adolescent: " 'I am going to email a shitload of people tonight.' I think that's funny.// I feel angry. No I don't. I am bored." Haunted by the fear that advanced telecommunications estrange us from face-to-face human relationships ("I wanted to ignore her but we were looking directly at each other"). Titles like "some of my happiest moments in life occur on AOL instant messenger" and "i hate the world and i'm not immature" gesture, quite obviously, toward teenage angst. If Lin sometimes manages to fall short of this already low goal ("4:30 a.m." repeats the line "i am fucked existentially" no fewer than 60 times), his language overall is charged with raw nerve and vitality; he surprises, here and there, with a flash of emotional complexity, insight or wit: "...movies are processed and experienced in the mind which is where real life also is processed and experienced." The book would have gained much, however, from analyzing its anxieties rather than just acting them out. (Nov.)