Roundup

  • At 5:15 AM, the humidity in New York creeps onto your flesh like a warm and stubborn leech you can’t flick off with a sharp knife. All this is to say that one must get up early to get things done. But even then, one understands less within the clarity of a cooler room.
  • the next night we eat whale. I must say that I was considerably underwhelmed by Tao Lin’s latest collection, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, a book so slim and perfunctory that I finished it in twenty minutes, and I think this YouTube clip reveals why. Tao Lin now wants to play his crowd without putting the time into his work, rather than keep his crowd guessing with more elaborate and iconoclastic poetry. I do think Tao has talent, but the more that he surrounds himself with Tao imitators and people who will be amused by everything he writes and who feed his desire to please others, the lesser he becomes as a writer.
  • The Rake is back, with an alarming evocation of a writer’s corporate visage.
  • John Fox lists the top twelve online literary journals. (via Yen Cheong)
  • Black Oak Books on Irving Street wasn’t the greatest bookstore, but I am stunned to hear of its closing. There used to be another used bookstore across the street many years ago, and I’m sad that this stretch of Irving is now without a decent bookstore.
  • Brockman claims that he was in Prince’s house, and he has the pictures to prove it.
  • I missed reporting this when the desktop was down, but Jane Friedman is out. Leon Neyfakh observes that Friedman’s resignation was unexpectedly abrupt. More prognostication from Sara Nelson. Were desperate ideas such as Bob Miller’s profit sharing model last-minute factors that Friedman was putting into place to turn around HarperCollins (sales were up, operating profits were down) before Friedman’s contract expired in November? Motoko Rich has done some actual reporting here, pointing out that Friedman was squeezed out by Rupert Murdoch and that the timeline was changed. But it remains unclear just who leaked this to Gawker in the first place.
  • Jeanette Winterson, Will Self, and Alain de Botton on home. None name-checks Kansas. (via Sarah)
  • The Washington Post provides succor for Luc Sante and others on trying to get rid of books. But the article in question doesn’t account for the therapy costs that some sobbing bibliophiles are likely to accrue after days of sobbing. (via Bookslut)
  • The Onion interviews Harlan Ellison: Part One and Part Two. As usual, he gets a number of things very right and a number of things very wrong.
  • John Banville on Georges Simenon.
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22 Comments

  1. Ed — thanks for the love, but I need to correct you on one thing: it was not *I* who entered the domain of The Purple One, but rather my co-worker, Danielle Marshall.

    Had it been me, I would have demanded he play “Pussy Control” no matter how many bodyguards tried to drag me off…

  2. Ed, you’re spot-on about Lin. Two years ago he seemed like an incredibly refreshing voice, but he’s since basically played to a small group of his followers & imitators, who tell him everything he does is great, including his silly little Britney Spears stickers (if he was trying to say that he is as shallow as that person, then maybe they had a point), his vandalism, his circle-jerk interviews with friends, his calls for shoplifting, & his repetitive & mediocre poems.

    Lin should be a cautionary tale for young writers. Nobody takes him seriously but his groupies, and for a while he looked poised to become an interesting writer. Publication at too early an age – when a writer is basically a kid – can be bad, but it’s unfortunate that Lin never really got mainstream criticism outside of his tiny coterie that you’ve provided here.

    Perhaps he will take your warning as a sign he’s got to change. I hope so.

  3. Some people might say it is mean to trespass and vandalize a publication’s office.

    Some people might say it is mean to shoplift and rip off stores.

    Some people might say it is mean to deliberately submit already published stories to Pindeldyboz and then trash the editor when she comments on your website how you have violated her policy and then let your followers trash her “while she is in the room.”

    Some people might say it is mean to publish a story in the Mississippi Review with the name of an n+1 editor who (nicely) rejected your work and feature the editor in the story doing embarrassing things.

    Some people might say that taking advantage of Ed’s invitation to blog about the Oscars and use it to promote your work and encourage shoplifting is a mean thing to do to someone who has been nice to you.

    Some people might say it is mean to threaten to kill commenters to blog entries you wrote (again, the person is “in the room.”)

    Some people might say that a lot of the comments by the kids on the website “Reader of Depressing Books” are mean. Or that they exhibit intelligence far below the mean.

    Some people might say it is not just a crime punishable by fines and prison but also mean to commit fraud on investors and bilk them out of over a million dollars, as Lin’s parents did, and then flee the country to avoid paying them back in lawsuits, as Lin’s parents did, yet send money to their son.

    Do you see what I mean?

  4. And telling people to avoid bother buying Lin’s latest inconsquential book will reduce pain and suffering in the world on the part of those who might waste their time and money. It will make Lin think about his life and maybe change the way he is doing things. So in this case being ‘mean’ is ‘actually’ reducing ‘pain’ and ‘suffering.’

  5. Okay, see, I didn’t know all of those things. I just remember Tao Lin being someone I enjoyed blogging with on ROTR last summer.

  6. I do not mean to be mean to Lin. He does not seem to be lucky enough to have real friends who will tell him when he is doing something that is wrong. Ed’s comment here shows that Ed is, if not a friend (I don’t know if they are), but an honest critic who is telling him where his writing is going wrong. Lin needs more mainstream attention. For example, instead of fawning over him as his friends who interview him do, a serious mainstream interviewer would ask the writer some questions about subjects he avoids, like his father’s arrest, conviction and time in federal prison for fraud and money laundering in regard to his company, SurgiLight, and Lin’s parents fleeing the U.S. to avoid the suits from the people they defrauded of, according to the SEC and federal courts, of $1.7 million dollars. A good interviewer would ask Lin if this has led him to do some of the things he does, if he thinks the rules of society do not apply to him and allow him to commit trespass, vandalism and theft; if the rules of publications (i.e., no previously published submissions) do not apply to him; if rules against making death threats to others over the internet do not apply to him, etc.

    As I said, as Ed said, Lin is a talented writer who apparently doesn’t realize how much he is damaging himself. He has traded everything for approval and instant success. BUt he is young and hopefully he will grow up.

  7. Sally I don’t know you at all and all I know of Tao is from what I’ve read of his blog/some poems/some stories. But your posts have left me with an extremely distasteful feeling and that feeling is towards yourself and not towards Tao, which is perhaps the opposite of what you were aiming for. I find your refusal to directly address him repulsive, especially knowing that he is probably going to read what you are saying about him. I hope you appreciate my direct address to you and would consider contacting Tao personally with any problems you have with his behaviour instead of addressing them to everyone except him.

    Edward sorry for hijacking your blog but if there was a way I could have sent this message to Sally personally I would have. Also interesting list of the top online journals thing. I wonder if there is some interesting explanation for Pindeldyboz and Eclectica being so significantly above the rest of the pack.

    Also, Harlan Ellison: what’s the deal? Am I right?

  8. i think actually the worst thing about tao lin is that he’s made it really difficult to respond honestly about mediocre work without other people/tao thinking you’re being cute, clever, hip, and ironic.

    and that every time i have a paragraph break, (like i just did) i am highlighting this irony and making sure you really know this is a real-time “punchline coming up.

    like this.

    or this.

    i don’t even know if i’m being ironic anymore. god, i hate hipsters.

  9. Write me off as a “follower” if you want, but I actually think Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a step forward. I really quite enjoyed it.

    It doesn’t take long to read Aram Saroyan’s Minimal Poems, or a book of haiku, or Paul Fattaruso’s Bicycle. (I assume that you would emphasize what you saw as the “perfunctoriness” of the work as the thing that limited your enjoyment, no the length. Yes, Ed?) Reread “today is tuesday; email me saturday.” Or the poem that talks about headbutting.

    “i went fishing when i was five” appeared on the monkeybicycle website some time ago, in something I was at that point calling the “poem window.” The version there repeats the “and the next night we ate whale” line 5000 times (the multiple by which a large Blue Whale is larger than a sea turtle). When you hit the scroll down button, the line did that weird optical illusion where it appeared to be scrolling up and then down and then up and then down. (Tao and I even discussed making a flip book with a whale being slowly eaten down to the bone.)

    I think it works better like that (as a web poem with that optical trick) than it does read aloud live, but I also see the humor in reading it and testing the patience of an audience. Brian Beatty is a poet who plays with the movements between poem and joke and performance piece, and he did a nice job of articulating the spectrum here.

    And I think you’ll find that Tao tends to be sarcastic, not ironic. Mis-identifying an arch or sarcastic tone as “ironic” seems to be the default defensive posture of those who criticize Tao and some other younger authors.

    I really have no defense for some of the things Sally brings up. I don’t know that they all need to be defended, though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tao seriously threaten someone–except his literary agent. In poetic form.

    He probably shouldn’t shoplift, but I blame that on the influence of that darned Tony O’Neill.

    He probably shouldn’t send previously published things to online journals. I’m with Whitney on that. But he at least begins to make a good point when he points out it ain’t like any of us (editors or writers) are making any money on it. It’s more an annoyance than a crime.

    I am now and will continue to be amused by Tao sticking his thumb in the eye of the n+1 guys. The rejection may not have been “mean,” but it was certainly self-important. (“…our younger writers…” says the 32-year-old.) And those guys are perfectly capable of sticking up for themselves. They came out of the gate spoiling for a fight.

    I think the stuff about his parents is…well, I don’t know what it is. Sounds like a rumor to me. I’ve seen people link to a court document that mentions a couple named the Lins. Tao’s never confirmed that it is actually his folks, so I’ve always thought it was coincidence. If not, I’m not sure it really matters. The idea that his “criminal parents” raised a little literary Lex Luthor is, frankly, silly.

  10. Why would a parents actions have any bearings on those of a child? Is he complicit in his parents crimes? Do they play out in his art?

    Lin is trying to stir things up; you seem pretty stirred. If you don’t want to be effected by him, read something else.

  11. From the Orlando Business Journal:
    http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/stories/2002/12/16/daily53.html

    The founder and former chief executive of Orlando-based Surgilight Inc. has been convicted by a Brooklyn jury of fraud and money laundering.

    According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, J.T. Lin was convicted for manipulating Surgilight’s stock price by stating in press releases that it developed a way to cure presbyiopia, an age-related deterioration of eyesight.

    Those statements were false, the SEC maintains.

    Shares in Surgilight climbed from about $2.50 to $25 on that information. According to the SEC, which regulates publicly traded companies, Lin then sold off Surgilight shares he controlled for a profit of about $1.5 million. He then wired that money overseas.

    Lin stepped down as CEO of Surgilight in August 2001.

    Surgilight placed Lin, a former University of Central Florida professor, on leave when he was indicted on the fraud and money laundering charges in April 2002. He remained on the company payroll as a consultant until July 31.

    In addition to the criminal case in Brooklyn, Lin and his wife, Suchin Lin, face civil charges for violating laws governing securities trading. The SEC is seeking to recover the $1.5 million in question plus interest and other penalties.

    The Lins had previously settled a civil action filed against them involving another laser eye surgery company in September 1998.

    —From the Securities & Exchange Commission:
    http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr19169.htm

    Securities and Exhange Commission v. Surgilight Inc., Jui-Teng Lin, Yuchin Lin and Aaron Tsai, Civil Case No. 6:02-CV-431-ORL-18-KRS (M.D. Fla. filed April 11, 2002)
    Court Enters Final Judgments Against All Defendants in Surgilight Litigation

    On April 4, 2005, the Honorable G. Kendall Sharp, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, entered Final Judgments as to Defendants Surgilight, Inc., Jui-Teng Lin, Yuchin Lin and Aaron Tsai.

    The Final Judgment as to Surgilight, Inc. (“Surgilight”), to which Surgilight consented without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, enjoins Surgilight from violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).

    The Final Judgment as to Jui-Teng Lin (“Dr. Lin”), to which Dr. Lin consented without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, enjoins Dr. Lin from violating Sections 10(b), 13(d) and 16(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5, 13d-1, 13d-2, 16a-2 and 16a-3 thereunder, and Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act. The Final Judgment also prohibits Dr. Lin from acting as an officer or director of a publicly traded company and orders him to disgorge $1,476,000, plus prejudgment interest thereon, provided that payment of disgorgement is deemed satisfied based on the entry of a court order directing Dr. Lin to forfeit a like amount to the United States in a parallel criminal action entitled U.S. v. Jui-Teng Lin, CR-02-0432 (E.D.N.Y. 2002).

    The Final Judgment as to Yuchin Lin (“Mrs. Lin”), to which Mrs. Lin consented without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, enjoins Mrs. Lin from violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act.

    The Final Judgment as to Aaron Tsai (“Tsai”), to which Tsai consented without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, enjoins Tsai from violating Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act, orders him to disgorge $4,464, plus prejudgment interest thereon in the amount of $1,805.21, and to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $4,464.

    The Commission’s Complaint, filed in April 2002, alleges that Dr. Lin, the former CEO of Surgilight, and his wife, Yuchin Lin, artificially inflated the market price of Surgilight stock through a series of false and misleading press releases that detailed the company’s alleged ability to cure an eye disorder known as “Presbyopia.” Simultaneously, the Lins allegedly dumped thousands of shares of Surgilight stock on an unsuspecting investing public by trading in two nominee accounts that they controlled, reaping illicit profits in excess of $1.4 million. According to the Complaint, the Lins obtained the Surgilight shares traded in the nominee accounts from Tsai.

    For more information, see Litigation Release Nos 17469 (April 11, 2002) and 18099 (April 23, 2003).

    Tao Lin was brought up in luxury by the Lins in Orlando. After all this happened, with lawsuits facing them to get back the money they stole from defrauded investors, they fled to their native Taiwan. Tao Lin’s parents still support him, send him money (how do you think he manages without any job or visible means of support?). My point was not that he’s a Lex Luthor — he’s obviously not that bright — but that he was brought up in a household where people had contempt for rules and so he has contempt for rules.

    When asked by Bookslut, “Okay, do you have any ethics that govern your writing?”

    Tao Lin answered:

    “Yes. My life is controlled by ethics and morals. Ethics and morals have me on lockdown. I’m being serious right now. Without morals life is meaningless in the long-term. Most people do not have morals. I try to have morals.”

    If the Lins above are not Tao Lin’s parents, then he can easily deny it. If they are, well, maybe he should answer my questions. Since his interviewers always seem to be those in thrall to his persona and work, they never do. Perhaps others, like Bat Segundo’s young correspond, were not aware of this.

    Now they are.

    As to the death threats, yes, there are some on Reader of Depressing Books’ comments section made by Tao Lin.

    Sorry for the long comments, and this will be my last one. If no one in the media chooses to pursue this or thinks it’s inappropriate to ask Tao Lin about criminal activity on the part of his parents — well, imagine if anyone would *not* ask Britney Spears or any of the celebrities whose ranks Lin so pathetically wants to join.

  12. why do you keep typing that they ‘fled to their native taiwan’? where does it say that? i don’t think that is true

    i wrote an article about my dad going to jail that the new york times magazine said they liked but wasn’t ‘unusual’ enough to publish, but they sent a ‘personal’ rejection letter, like 3 years ago

    i think they pay $3 a word, it would have been $2500 or something

    i think your main question, sally, is whether or not my parents actions have an influence on my actions

    ‘yes’

  13. ‘He has traded everything for approval and instant success.’

    about ‘approval’

    there is probably a much-higher-than-average (for writers) shit-talking percentage against me on the internet

    and most of my books have low ratings (3.39 for e.e.e.) on goodreads.com

    and you and other people are shit-talking me in very giant comments that extend to my parents in the comments section of a blog

    the approval is not here i think more than it is here for most writers i think

    about ‘instant success’

    i live in a 4 person apartment 6 stops into brooklyn, i’m published by an independent press, i’ve made something like $6000 in my life off writing probably so far (i’ve probably made more money in the restaurant i’m currently working in in less than half a year), all my books that are so far published were written before EEE/BED were published in may, 2007, i have not written any journalism that requires reporting or thinking about things i’m not interested in for money, i haven’t written any book reviews for money, i am not working on a romance novel or something, i don’t have an agent that is trying to get places to pay me money to write things i’m not interested in, my current book that is out has been ignored by all or almost all mainstream media, and i don’t really have any prospects for making a lot of money at one time through writing ($1000+) for the next 2-3 years

    if i continue at this pace i will probably sell 1/10 of what jonathan safran foer or michael chabon sells (per year) by 2040 or something

  14. the paragraph after ‘instant success’ doesn’t make sense sort of

    i talked about journalism because i am saying that ‘successful’ writers get offers from the new york times magazine or have their agents set it up so they can write something or review something and make $15,000 or something off it, i do not get offers like that

    also that i haven’t done non-ficiton in topics i’m not interested in shows i haven’t traded ‘my time’ for ‘instant success’ or anything else, i think

  15. i promise to myself not to comment again on this thread

    i want to post this comment so i feel more encouraged not to comment anymore or it will keep making me come back and type things i already typed in other places

  16. sally, regardless of how annoying you think tao is, and all his stunts, he has never attacked anyone on a personal level. in all of the comment threads of every tao lin related minor-controversy, i have never encountered such anger and hostility. you seem obsessed with him actually, to know so much about him. to attack his parents is just tacky. i mean, jesus, okay, so he simultaneously submitted to pboz or stuck some stickers on gawker–a website that makes a living shit-talking other people. with all of tao’s stunts (n+1, britney, whatever) there’s an implicit self-mockery about it. it’s just internet fun. what you did, sally, makes the internet not-fun. it’s like your website ends with .gov or .edu: not fun. you are a girl, and girls just want to have fun. so you are a confusing person. i hope you and tao and everyone in general can still have a nice day today.

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