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Richard Yates: A Novel Paperback – Sep 7 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (Sept. 7 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935554158
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935554158
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #424,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“[G]enuinely funny...accurate, often filthy dispatches on what it is to be young and pushing against the world.”
—Charles Bock, The New York Times

"Lin captures certain qualities of contemporary life better than many writers in part because he dispenses with so much that is expected of current fiction."
David Haglund, The London Review of Books

Richard Yates is neither pretentious nor sneering nor reflexively hip. It is simply a focused, moving, and rather upsetting portrait of two oddballs in love.”
—Danielle Dreillinger, The Boston Globe

"[A] batty and precisely penned novel....[Tao Lin] has, in methodically stacked increments, become a legitimate writing presence."
Carrie Battan, The Boston Phoenix

"[Lin's] lean and often maniacal sentences propel the work forward with a slanted momentum. What first seems like a stock tale of romance gone sour evolves into a parable about the fickleness of human desire and the futility of detachment when it comes to love."
Time Out New York

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, author of Bright Shiny Morning and A Million Little Pieces

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 like a ninety-foot pigeon. You’ve never seen anything like it before, and yet it is somehow exactly like the world we live in.”
—Daniel Handler, author of Adverbs

“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.’”
—HTMLGIANT

“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, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You

“Do you read Tao Lin and think ‘I love this! What is it?’ Perhaps it is the curious effect of a radically talented, fecund and tender mind setting down a world sans sense or consequence.”
—Lore Segal, author of the Pulitzer-Prize nominated Shakespeare’s Kitchen

 “Fascinating and articulate in a way that people my age (incl. um, like, you know, myself) rarely are.”
—Emily Gould, author of And The Heart Says Whatever
 
“Prodigal, unpredictable...impossible to ignore.”
Paste Magazine
 
“A master of understatement–or, rather, of statement.”
Vice Magazine

“A deadpan literary trickster.”
The New York Times

“Lin’s fiction is a wonderfully deadpan joke.”
The Independent

“Deeply smart, funny, and heads-over-heels dedicated.”
—Sam Anderson, New York Magazine

“[A] parable about the fickleness of human desire and the futility of detachment when it comes to love.”
Time Out New York

“Lin’s sympathetic fascination with the meaning of life is full of profound and often hilarious insights.”
Publishers Weekly

“Meet literature's Net-savvy new star.”
 Salon

"There is danger and sadness in his work, but not defeat."
 —Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

About the Author

Tao Lin is the author of the novels Richard Yates and Eeeee Eee Eeee, the novella Shoplifting from American Apparel, the story collection Bed, and the poetry collections cognitive-behavioral therapy and you are a little bit happier than i am. Translations of his books have been published around the world, including in France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Norway, Serbia, South Korea, China, and Taiwan. He lives in Manhattan.

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Amazon.com: 33 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Written like a lot of these reviews July 27 2011
By Shannon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the other reviewers that say this novel is high on style but low on substance, that it's affected. I like that it's slow-burning and constantly shifting, and the way my brain gets into a new grove of reading/hearing/seeing facts and short statements, so that my perception of the world is changed for a bit when I stop reading and go to make dinner, or whatever. Never mind its main characters are sort of terrible -- and not in a compelling way, just in a, oh, come on, sort of way.

But when I allowed my suspension of disbelief to snap, when I stopped trusting the author, it all came crumbling down, and I couldn't read more than a few sentences without rolling my eyes. It felt like listening to the kid in your freshman dorm who seemed so wise and fascinating, and then meeting him again three years later and thinking he's just full of it. The type who wears lamé American Apparel leggings and an artfully holey American Apparel tank top at 3 pm on a Wednesday in the Lower East Side. Just, no thanks.

To get a feel for the style of the writing, check out some of the other reviews here, especially the top ones. They're written in the same way as the book. Short sentences with simple structures that say facts. One after another. Maybe repeating words from the previous one, to really dig deep. Seems fresh at the beginning, and I liked doing the extra work that this style masterfully encourages, but after a while, it just grated on me.

Worth picking up to see what all the fuss is about, and I can't wait to see what Tao Lin does when his less-than-subtle style matures a bit. But for now, this isn't my favorite book. Even though I'm 25 and live in Brooklyn.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Literature for and about today's generation April 23 2012
By ikirkwood62 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've always been suspicious about novels that cater to a certain audience, even if only a little bit. I have read certain authors that avoid this so much they go so far as to not include real-life products in their stories, in order to make their book "timeless". While that's extreme, going so far as to create a story that only really applies to modern teenagers is extreme in the opposite way.

Richard Yates by Tao Lin is about Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning (not the real ones), an older hipster-type guy and a young teenage girl with some self esteem issues. They meet on the internet and start a relationship. This causes many problems in both of their lives.

The best thing about this novel is also the worst thing: it perfectly captures the current generation (my own).

But when I say that, I don't mean it like The Great Gatsby perfectly capturing the Roaring 20's. Because when Gatsby did it, it took the corrupted morals and ideas of a party-oriented society and used it as a springboard to discuss the morals and ideas of everyone, everywhere, at anytime.

Richard Yates does a really good job in creating two characters who represent the Millenials. They are self-centered, loathing, and outsider-type individuals. They fit the "hipster" bill perfectly, eating only organic and steamed lentils and raw diets and vegetarianism. But underneath the callous exterior lies uncertainty. There is a certain poetry about today's generation that is misunderstood by everyone else. Except Lin. He manages to capture it without a misstep.

But if you're an older person reading this, you might roll your eyes and shrug off my description of my generation. And that's okay, I don't blame you. The opinion is subjective and lopsided and totally biased to me, because I like to glorify my generation. And Tao Lin does, too. So chances are, if you are over the age of 26, you probably won't like this book.

There are definitely a few unexpected twists and turns among the plot. I do appreciate those. But ultimately, the story line is boring and dry.

The Writing style also leaves a lot to be desired. It's supposed to be ultra-minimalism at its finest, and instead it comes off as shallow and lacking imagination. Everything falls into a "subject-verb-object" type sentence without much variation. And that would be fine if it was pretty and beautiful, but its oftentimes ugly and not entertaining to read. Sometimes, you have to force yourself to re-read or keep reading, because the text can be hard to swallow.

On the back of the book, a question is posed " What constitutes illicit sex for a generation with no rules?" This question isn't fully answered, and neither is much else in this book. I'd *maybe* rent this from the library if I got the chance, otherwise, I wouldn't go crazy having not read it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
a hip read at the beach Oct. 11 2011
By a.dolan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read 'Richard Yates' on a work night in the beginning of the week alone in my room. I had heard that 'Richard Yates' was a true account by the author, which was primarily my motivation to read it. I had only ever read 'Shoplifting' prior to reading 'Richard Yates.'

The content made me feel, at first, shame and resentment for my own teenage mistakes. I also felt uneasy and inadequate that I didn't find it as humorous as other people did. So, at first, I felt negatively towards `Richard Yates,' as it made me feel poorly.
I didn't want my initial reaction and past experiences to shape my opinion of the book. After a week's worth of thought, I realized that I had received exactly what I wanted from `Richard Yates;' a literal retelling of events from a narrator unmotivated and unconcerned with my or anyone else's opinion of them. Behind the seemingly fake method of building a familiar brand is a product that is unusually authentic. It is likeable at times and unlikable other times. The book satisfied my curiosity about the author's life. This thought made me feel calm about the book. Things that I perceive to be authentic make me feel good about society and culture. I feel good. Thank you for `Richard Yates.'
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Buy This Sept. 8 2010
By Leigh Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Most refer to Lin's taut, blank prose as an 'in-joke' that they feel excludes them. Rather, 'Richard Yates' is the author's finest demonstration yet of a rare and profound courage: that which it takes to describe the most heart-wrenching and least-explored facets of the human condition with simple direction, and without the safety net of embellishment.

It's a demonstration of understanding that such things need no embellishment; that the voids, absences and repellently-common weaknesses within everyday individuals are as meaningful when explored plainly as the most vaunted and decorous conflicts in far more elaborate literature.

Yes, Lin writes primarily from and for a generation accustomed to communicating in literal, digitally-enabled prose lines. Yet in applying such a cultural norm to his own work, he illuminates without any special effort the unique and nakedly-honest troughs in the hearts of the millennial young.

Further, with the sort of efficacy that must only come from deeply personal observation, Lin applies himself to far more complex monsters, such as casual kleptomania or unexamined impulse behavior. Most prominently, his fashion of prose bluntly unveils the germination of a severe eating disorder in a teenage girl, in what may be the most faithful and effective rendition of such a condition in literature to date.

At the same time, there is nothing insular about 'Richard Yates'. While being a missive from and for a generation whose two worst fears are to be alone and to be mundane, in that order, there is a timelessness about the relationship portrayed in the book -- a tragedy of two who seek completion and approval from one another so greatly it devours and starves their ability to love one another. Alternately, it explores the great frequency with which dysfunction is often mistaken for (or interchangeable with) love in the modern era.

Much public assessment of 'Richard Yates' has unfortunately hinged on the age gap between the protagonists, one that has actually become much less shocking and far more commonplace among the twenty-somethings of today. Like Nabokov's classic Lolita, the book's primary merit lies in the poignant and thought-provoking interactions between two wildly dysfunctional and distasteful individuals; this is an end toward which taboo (if any) is simply a vehicle, not an end in itself.

Lin is frequently dismissed by many in their eagerness to vent resentment for feeling excluded from or irrelevant alongside a certain subset of internet-savvy individuals. The fashion of delivery would be relevant even in a vacuum. You should just buy the book, discard, if possible, any prejudgments, and appreciate it on its multiple levels.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Review of Richard Yates Oct. 27 2011
By AimeeKay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Richard Yates is about Haley Joel Osment and his minor girlfriend Dakota Fanning. The novel follows their relationship from the first time they meet to well into their slightly deranged relationship. Altogether the age difference is the least of their problems.
I pretty much hated Haley from the beginning. Not only was he taking advantage of an obviously mentally unstable young girl. Which in itself is just slimy. But he is also whiny and self-absorbed. Dakota is naive enough to fall for Haley's self-righteous schtick. But she herself is not innocent of the same whiny, self-obsessed traits, however since she is sixteen there is some excuse there. Or maybe it was just since the novel was told primarily from Haley's perspective. Maybe if I had heard Dakota's inner thoughts I would have hated her for the same reasons I hated Haley. Instead of the just utter dislike and contempt I felt for her. Haley and Dakota refer to pretty much everyone they encounter as 'party-girls' and 'cheese beasts'. At times it seems surprising that they could even stand each other. They steal from any store they walk into without a second thought. Even at one point when Dakota is caught she acts as if it is of no importance. They throw thoughts of suicide at each other as if it doesn't matter.
Haley is completely stuck on Dakota. Constantly questioning every look she makes, every movement, trying to interpret if it means she really wants to be around him. But as their relationship progresses he becomes controlling and domineering to Dakota. Giving her orders on what to eat, how to behave, etc. Dakota wavers between completely needy and obsessed with pleasing Haley, to being an almost pathological liar. My personal favorite in the whole story is where she sends him an email telling him all the times she's lied to him. While unfortunately it shows how bad her eating disorder has gotten, at the same time it shows how she isn't being completely controlled by all his manipulative bs.
In all honesty they reminded me of quite a few people I knew growing up. They are convinced they are better than everyone else. Not because of money or looks, but because they assume they have a greater intellect than anyone around them. They believe this gives them the right to do as they please, even if this means hurting everyone around them. Instead of being a deep as they think they are, they are actually shallow and empty. Sorta like the conch shell on the cover of the book.

Ok. I knew going into this book that is is suppose to be one of those deep, existential, thought provoking books. And it did make me think. Honestly the characters, besides just reminding me of people I knew, and still know, they also reminded me of that episode of South Park, where people are running around sniffing their own farts and saying how wonderful they smell. Unfortunately this book wasn't quite as funny as that episode. I'm not saying this is a bad book. On some level it's a great study of how shallow and self-absorbed people can be, and how this leads them to isolate themselves. I'm sure there are many ways it can be translated. If you like existentialism or a book that will make you feel deep and meaningful, or where you can read into someones thoughts and actions and analyze everything that is done. Then read it. If you just want a book to read. Where you actually might like the characters, or at least a story you can get lost in. Yea, this is probably not what you want to read. I read somewhere that Tao Lin is one of those writers you either love or hate. I don't hate him. I just don't like this book. I found it the characters pretentious and pointless. But I can admire Lin's writing. His characters never did anything out of character. He didn't shy away from portraying them as he saw them, even when it was offensive or would cause you to hate them more. Since the description of this book says it is a "startling change of direction" for the author I would probably even read more of his work if given the opportunity.

*****In compliance with FTC guidelines, I'm disclosing that I received this book for free through GoodReads First Reads. ****
(I recommend everybody should go check out all the awesome first read giveaways they have!)

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