Did You Get That Thing I Sent You?

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Posts Tagged ‘tao lin

MuuMuu House Embezzlement Scandal

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Brandon Scott Gorrell had a short story contest on his website (I linked to it a few posts ago).  Entrants had to pay $7, and the winner would receive half of all the entry fees, a final amount of $254.80, as well as a lifetime subscription to MuuMuu House books, and a bunch of other crap.

Long story short, head publisher at MuuMuu House and literary cult leader Tao Lin won the contest.

God I want to stop writing about this guy.

Gorrell posted the winning story on his blog.  The third comment on the post is Lin saying “Damn, Sweet story.” By the fifteenth comment, it is revealed that Lin wrote the story and then used one of his interns (possibly girlfriend?) to send it in.  Shit to fan.  “Sarah Schneider,” who submitted the story for Lin, told the whistleblower to “stop making up lies.”  Gorrell insists that the story was sent by Schneider, he didn’t know it was penned by Lin (though through employing some Critical Reading I learned in High School, I was able to find evidence that the story was written by Lin in the first word and then also in every single word that followed), and that even still he didn’t violate any of the rules he had established for his contest.  Then Lin admitted to sending it to Schneider, then later admitted to specifically using Schneider to enter the contest.  This all happens in that comments section, btw.

I won’t bother detailing the internet fray that followed.  The word “shitstorm” has been used a lot.  Though he never says it directly, Lin eventually acknowledges that all the prizes are going directly to him.  He will refund anyone “who asks.”

While Lin comes off as conniving and manipulative here, and his girlfriend Schneider seems spineless, its Gorrell who looks the worst from all this.  Let’s first believe his highly questionable claim that he didn’t know he was awarding a Lin story.  OK, he should have specifically stated that no interested parties can participate.  That’s how contests are typically structured.  Lin and Gorrell AND Schneider, as intern, make up the publishing company MuuMuu house, and this contest was partially billed as a way to get the attention of publishers.  But OK he didn’t say interested parties couldn’t participate, so he’s just not too bright.  No rules broken.

But what does it say about this guy, whose style draws heavily from Lin (you know, like how Dark Star Orchestra draw heavily from The Grateful Dead), who also works directly under Lin, and whose blog even looks like a rescripted facsimile of Lin’s , when he is finally given the opportunity to be in charge of something, something personal that could distinguish him from Lin, he just goes ahead and cedes the spotlight to his master, yet again.  Gorrell is a minion.  It’s a shame, because it was really a great idea for a contest.

Anyway, the larger picture has to do with the entire “internet writer” thing.  All the inappropriate quotations, the lack of punctuation, excessive use of phrases like “I feel,” “it seems like,” and “whatever,” the prevailing tone of slightly shocked existential awkwardness…it is all so tired by now.  But Lin, Gorrell, Ellen Kennedy, Schneider, and basically everyone who posts anything positive on any of these blogs, are all more than happy to maintain the hivemind.  Movements more famous and far more interesting have eventually crumbled due to stagnant like-mindedness.  Lin is still a genius of self-promotion (and this may be his greatest stunt yet), but it seems like MuuMuu House And Friends have forgotten there’s supposed to be literature being made.

PLUG: there is a new story of mine at The Whiskey Dregs.  It’s called Simon and it’s a very short story about becoming other people.  I wish I had given it another name.


Written by Peter Kelly

May 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm

An Investment Banker Bought Tao Lin’s Myspace

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Tao Lin’s latest internet stunt was selling his Myspace account, which he rode to his high-low (as opposed to low-low(-low), as in me) level of fame a few years ago, and it was apparently purchased by a young investment banker from JP Morgan.  I dunno.  The essay “Mr. Chen” wrote on why he bought the account (which can be seen in the second link I posted or on the myspace in question) is pretty funny/mildly believable, but a Chinese 20-something who went to NYU, took writing classes, felt pressure from his family and girlfriend, and is now an investment banker, sounds  a lot like a Tao Lin doppelganger.  And the writing is extremely Lin-esque at times.  Who knows.  The whole thing sounds custom tailored with curious twists to maximize potential press interest, which you have just experienced it doing.

P.S.- When are Shoplifting and Richard Yates coming out, Tao?

Written by Peter Kelly

May 7, 2009 at 12:18 am

Tao Lin

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Tao Lin

Tao Lin

Tao Lin is the Brooklyn based author of a novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, a collection of short stories, Bed, and two collections of poems, You Are a Little Bit Happier Than I Am and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.  He has another book coming out soon that is supposedly called Richard Yates, though at a recent reading he told me it was going to be called Werner Herzog.

Now, the thing I am required to mention here, the “hook” of this post, is that Lin made (internet) headlines a few months ago by selling shares in his forthcoming novel, the idea being that in turn for supporting Lin financially through the writing of the novel, investors would share in the novel’s eventual yield.  Much has been made about this bold move in the “blogosphere,” which was surely Lin’s plan all along, but I’ll reserve my judgment except to say that I think the whole thing is the perfect embodiment of what Lin is, a man whose talents lie more in self-promotion than writing.

Not that Lin is a bad writer.  In fact he can be good and sometimes even great.  Or at least interesting, original, genuine, which is all at least as good as being “good.”  When he’s at his best he manages to connect to that part of us that is, in one way or another, permanently bored and mildly nihilistic, and Lin helps us laugh at/with this odd part of our identity. Here’s an example, from the first story in Bed:

Though if love was an animal, Garret knew, it would probably be the Loch Ness Monster. If it didn’t exist, that didn’t matter. People made models of it, put it in the water, and took photos. The hoax of it was good enough. The idea of it. Though some people feared it, wished it would just go away, had their lives insured against being eaten alive by it.

Lin is the best author to come from a 20-something writer movement that could be called “depressocore,” if they don’t already have a name, and seems to be based primarily in Brooklyn (gasp).  The subjects for these authors (who include but are not limited to Ellen Kennedy, Brandon Gorrell, Zachary German, as well as Lin) are primarily depression, depression, loneliness, and depression.  They write like if Ernest Hemingway didn’t strive for truth but instead just went to Walmart.  There are no capital letters in their blogs, which somehow all look like American Apparel products.

But Lin is not only the best writer from this movement, he is also far away the most successful, and this actually has little to nothing to do with his ability as a writer.  Lin is an old school self-promoter in the internet age, constantly giving out free copies of his books, pulling online stunts like the share selling fiasco, and even mobilizing a small posse of groupies (“interns” he calls them) to promote his books on blogs, message boards, and especially to the editors at gawker.  The irony of Lin putting himself out there so much is that, as you can see for yourself in the below links, Lin’s writing is all about being awkward and wracked by anxiety— to the point of paralysis, for some of his characters.  But maybe being exhibitionist about your nervousness isn’t ironic anymore.  After all, artists have been selling anxiety since Kafka, and in some (e.g. Rivers Cuomo) aspiring towards increased sales has become a sort of singular escape from insecurity.  For a generation that posts every single detail of their life on facebook, myspace, livejournal, twitter, and youtube, maybe being anxious and depressed isn’t as weird as being anxious and depressed and not telling everybody about it.

Here’s that first story from Bed, which contains the excerpt posted above.  It’s a great example of his strengths (and weaknesses) and probably the best thing he’s written.

A poem called “I Went Fishing with My Family when I Was Five,” which is short and dumb/funny but I post mainly as an example of how Lin is a very “internet centric” writer, and what that means.

A really hilarious essay on Seattle in the online magazine The Stranger, which seems pretty cool and a good website for if you happen to live in Seattle.

Written by Peter Kelly

October 18, 2008 at 8:49 pm

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