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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: 19 x 14 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #302,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 32 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Written like a lot of these reviews July 27 2011
By Shannon - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Soup Can Art? Nov. 19 2013
By W. J. TAYLOR - Published on
Format: Paperback
This novel by Tao Lin will challenge the reader’s concept of art in much the same way that Andy Warhol did with this Campbell’s Soup can and his eight-hour movie of a man sleeping. Lin’s novel has insistent deadpan dialogue and a slew of emails just as insistently deadpan. A random—I swear—choice: “What’s going to happen”” said Haley Joel Osment. / “I don’t know. I can’t leave here. She won’t let me leave.”/ “Is she calling the police?” said Haley Joel Osment. / “No, I don’t think she will. I have to go. She’s here.” / “ I don’t know what to say,” said Haley Joel Osment. . . . And that was one of the more exciting exchanges. Just as Warhol argued that the act of freezing something completely realistic into an artifact de facto turns it into art, Lin must believe that freezing banal conversations between a sixteen year old girl and a twenty-three year old young author too constitutes art. And I’m not arguing the fact.
Moreover, I believe his two—three if you count the mother—all change in this novel. For the worse, unfortunately for each. The two younger characters seem involved in a folie a deux much akin to the characters in Angela Carter’s lovely but depressing novel LOVE. I’m not a stickler who claims that there must be at least one likeable character in every novel. Nope. Not at all. My overall reaction to this short novel (206 pages) is that it was painful to read. Painful in a good way in that the wandering exchanges were so angst-filled and young; painful in a bad way in that there seemed to be little or no arc in the novel’s plot—which is nearly non-existent, other than the changes that the characters undergo ever so slowly.
One last criticism, and this isn’t of the novel, but of a review I read of it: I’m loathe to identify Haley Joel Osment with Tao Lin. I’m also loathe to believe that Osment is inspired by a Richard Yates novel to leave the 16, then 17 year old Dakota Fanning at novel’s end. Rather, I believe that this novel could have continued for a thousand or more pages of painful dialogue before Dakota Fanning’s suicidal urges came to fruition, from the imbedded urges of both her mother and her lover. The two characters are stuck and intend to stay stuck.
20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
It's unfortunate that you cannot give a negative amount of stars on here. Otherwise, I'd have give then a -10, extreme, I know.. May 6 2012
By Bjorn Reddy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now when first beginning this book, I thought with an eager, albeit naive sense of hope that it would turn out to be some genius (perhaps dadaist) piece of insurgent avant garde literature. However, I was gravely mistaken, and to reiterate- extraordinarily naive in having such hope.

I will say one nice thing about this book. It was quick to the point in proving that it is utter s***.

As an artist who primarily paints, but founded his passion of expression in poetry and literature, I like to give all aspiring voices a chance- and consider myself a well understanding reader. Still, as I tried desperately to find any shred to cling to that could make this (I almost dare not even call it a book) appear to have any legitimacy- I simply could not.

I was given to bouts of pulling my hair and laughing with maniacal rage as it progressed and remained the same droll superficial style. I should have given up immediately upon seeing that the main characters were so "cleverly" named after celebrities that I couldn't even give two s***s about in what movies they've starred in. That Amazon's own review impotently attempts to give depth to this cheap device of name dropping just shows how obvious it is that this book would need expertise pitchman skills to convince one to read it.

I will say this one positive bit as well. If a books got by on cover art alone, I'd say this cover photo would be a prime example of how to market. That is to say, I like the cover photo. I may tear it off, cut off all evidence of it being linked to Tao Lin and pin it on my wall before tossing the bulk of this unfortunate publication in the trash.

The fact that Richard Yates, whose writings I've loved so dearly, is tied in with this novel makes me want to wring Lin's scrawny vegan neck. I would even go so far as to say that Yates' good name is veritably exploited in this scenario.

Now I'll try to make sense of the actual writing for you. Basically reading Lin is like reading the tweets of middle schoolers. His constant use of "we're f***ed" "this is f***ed" "life is f***ed" in his dialogue just shows how completely air headed he or whatever examples of humanity he borrows from in his "writing" are. The characters are worse than hollow, worse than cardboard, I don't think there's a dimension bland enough to describe them. They talk at each other like simpletons, there's only the illusion of conversation. In the end the impression given is that they're severely moronic if not utterly lost in superficial self involved bubbles- little worlds with the complexity of an episode of the kid's show "Barney" that revolve around soy milk and cereal.

In summation I will say that I love Amazon because of its great option to find cheap used books; and usually when I pay a meager amount for a used book that turns out to be crap, I let it slide and resell it- so I would like to end this review by sending out a message to Tao Lin himself, as well as a plea to curious readers:

Damn you, you rotten hack, for producing this vile crap. For making me sickened for the first time by a "novel" and for actually driving me to write this review as an (although possibly futile- I feel in good conscience, necessary) attempt to keep others from making the same mistake I made- directly or indirectly supporting you as a published hack.

NOW ATTENTION THOSE CONSIDERING READING THIS: DON'T!!!! Instead, perhaps actually read Richard Yates himself. Or go read Amy Hempel, or Miranda July. F*** go read Chuck Palahniuk if you need good modern minimalism.

Or if you honestly MUST get a feel for what this particular concoction is all about, go find some preteens and ask them if you can read their diaries or journals. Or read a trashy blog. I guarantee it will be more engaging and beneficial than this thing.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Buy This Sept. 8 2010
By Leigh Alexander - Published on
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.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is the edge of tolerable literature Jan. 2 2011
By David Leonard - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tao Lins style. Well that's what divides people. The fact that very quickly you become entranced by a voyouristic narrative shouldn't. Personally I'm indifferent to his matter of fact style because it presents an intrigueing story as a whole. If it didn't then I wouldn't even bother with this type of style, it's tedious at times and I tend to skim and not miss much. But in the end I get it.
The lifted gmail chats are what really make you feel a voyuer and what you find through them is a terrible mirror held up to the characters. I like this novel comparatively to his other work in that it's less desolate. There ARE characters, not just random encounters. Tao Lin works on the fringe, he trys to present the world as it is, where no one changes, most things bore us and everyone is two dimensional. This is the edge of tolerable literatere and it takes a real talent to make us sit on the edge with him and not walk away. To defy the conventional aproach to creating an entertaining story. This is why he divides. And I'll take what he presents: an indiference to life and apply it to his work.

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