cover image Taipei


Tao Lin. Vintage, $14.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-307-95017-8

For all its straightforwardness, Lin’s previous work—with its flat, Internet-inspired prose issued by small presses—has presented a stumbling stone for readers who fall outside his North Brooklyn contingent, for whom he is the standard bearer. This will change with the breakout Taipei, a novel about disaffection that’s oddly affecting. The story of Paul—with its book tours, Wikipedia binges, and on-again-off-again romances—smacks of autobiography. Similarly, the specificity of the Brooklyn that Paul and his cohort of blithe, pill-popping ironists occupy—the pop-cultural immediacy of the names of bands, books, and bars there—blurs the distinction between fiction and reality. The thin plot follows Paul in and out of parties, drug trips, and relationships from August to December 2010 (“during the filming... of X-Men: First Class”). Everything about Taipei appears to run contrary to the standard idea of what constitutes art. And yet, the documentary precision captures the sleepwalking malaise of Lin’s generation so completely, it’s scary. Trips to Vegas with an Internet crush (they marry on a whim) and the Taiwan residence of his understandably worried parents underscore the profound dislocation of the information-fried urban hipsterati. Yet for all its emotional reality, Taipai is a book without an ounce of self-pity, melodrama, or posturing, making the glacial Lin (Richard Yates) the perfect poster child for a generation facing—and failing to face—maturity. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (June)