Books

Part of the The Contemporary Art of the Novella Series

Shoplifting from American Apparel

112 Pages

Published September 2009

Shoplifting from American Apparel
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About the Book

“Tao's writing … has the force of the real."—Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School

This autobiographical novella is described by the author as “a shoplifting book about vague relationships,” and “an ultimately life-affirming book about how the unidirectional nature of time renders everything beautiful and sad."

From VIP rooms in hip New York City clubs to central booking in Chinatown, from New York University’s Bobst Library to a bus in someone’s backyard in a Floridian college town, from Bret Easton Ellis to Lorrie Moore, and from Moby to Schumann, Shoplifting from American Apparel explores class, culture, and the arts in all their American forms through the funny, journalistic, and existentially-minded narrative of someone trying to both “not be a bad person” and “find some kind of happiness or something.”

Praises

“Very funny.”
—USA Today

“Tao Lin’s sly, forlorn, deadpan humor jumps off the page. […] will delight fans of everyone from Mark Twain to Michelle Tea.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Trancelike and often hilarious… Lin’s writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian…deliciously odd.”
—The Guardian

“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

“Somehow both the funniest and the saddest book I’ve read in a long time.”
—Michael Schaub, Bookslut

“The purest example so far of the minimalist aesthetic as it used to be enunciated.”
—Michael Silverblatt, KCRW’s Bookworm

“A fragile, elusive little book.”
—Village Voice

“Prodigal, unpredictable.”
—Paste Magazine

“Loved it… Shoplifting From American Apparel stands out… Young, urban, self-sure, engaged.
—Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries

“Somehow both stilted and confessional…. often funny…. Lin is doing his best to capture a mid-twenties malaise, a droning urban existence that—in the hands of a mildly depressed narrator—never peaks nor pitches enough to warrant drama. In a way, it makes more sense to think of Tao Lin as a painter or performance artist; his work attempts to evoke through persistent, dull-edged provocation.”
—Time Out Chicago

“Scathingly funny for being so spare […] just might be the future of literature.”
—Austin Chronicle

“A revolutionary.”
—The Stranger (Seattle)

“A humorous reflection on the instantaneity of Internet-era life and relationships…. The writing stays fresh, thanks to occasional oddball dialogue about everything from Oscar Wilde to what exactly constitutes a fight with a girlfriend. And for all his meandering prose, there’s something charming about Lin’s directness. Writing about being an artist makes most contemporary artists self-conscious, squeamish and arch. Lin, however, appears to be comfortable, even earnest, when his characters try to describe their aspirations (or their shortcomings)…. Purposefully raw.”
—Time Out New York

“Lin’s candid exploration of Sam’s Web existence (and by extension, his own) is full of melancholy, tension, and hilarity… Lin is a master of pinpointing the ways in which the Internet and text messages can quell loneliness, while acknowledging that these faceless forms of communication probably created that loneliness to begin with.”
—The Boston Phoenix
“Very funny.”
—USA Today

“Tao Lin’s sly, forlorn, deadpan humor jumps off the page. […] will delight fans of everyone from Mark Twain to Michelle Tea.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Trancelike and often hilarious… Lin’s writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian…deliciously odd.”
—The Guardian

“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

“Somehow both the funniest and the saddest book I’ve read in a long time.”
—Michael Schaub, Bookslut

“The purest example so far of the minimalist aesthetic as it used to be enunciated.”
—Michael Silverblatt, KCRW’s Bookworm

“A fragile, elusive little book.”
—Village Voice

“Prodigal, unpredictable.”
—Paste Magazine

“Loved it… Shoplifting From American Apparel stands out… Young, urban, self-sure, engaged.
—Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries

“Somehow both stilted and confessional…. often funny…. Lin is doing his best to capture a mid-twenties malaise, a droning urban existence that—in the hands of a mildly depressed narrator—never peaks nor pitches enough to warrant drama. In a way, it makes more sense to think of Tao Lin as a painter or performance artist; his work attempts to evoke through persistent, dull-edged provocation.”
—Time Out Chicago

“Scathingly funny for being so spare […] just might be the future of literature.”
—Austin Chronicle

“A revolutionary.”
—The Stranger (Seattle)

“A humorous reflection on the instantaneity of Internet-era life and relationships…. The writing stays fresh, thanks to occasional oddball dialogue about everything from Oscar Wilde to what exactly constitutes a fight with a girlfriend. And for all his meandering prose, there’s something charming about Lin’s directness. Writing about being an artist makes most contemporary artists self-conscious, squeamish and arch. Lin, however, appears to be comfortable, even earnest, when his characters try to describe their aspirations (or their shortcomings)…. Purposefully raw.”
—Time Out New York

“Lin’s candid exploration of Sam’s Web existence (and by extension, his own) is full of melancholy, tension, and hilarity… Lin is a master of pinpointing the ways in which the Internet and text messages can quell loneliness, while acknowledging that these faceless forms of communication probably created that loneliness to begin with.”
—The Boston Phoenix

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