Shoplifting from American Apparel

Shoplifting from American Apparel

Set mostly in Manhattanalthough also featuring Atlantic City, Brooklyn, GMail Chat, and Gainsville, Floridathis autobiographical novella, spanning two years in the life of a young writer with a cultish following, has been described by the author as A shoplifting book about vague relationships, 2 parts shoplifting arrest, 5 parts vague relationship issues, 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 someones backyard in a college-town in Florida, from Bret Easton Ellis to Lorrie Moore, and from Moby to Ghost Mice, it 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, while he is driven by his failures and successes at managing his art, morals, finances, relationships, loneliness, confusion, boredom, future, and depression.

Reviews of the Shoplifting from American Apparel

have you read it?" lisa typed "yeah" jay said "what did you think?" "i don't know. it was short." "so it wasn't your favorite?" said jay "no. that would mesh with the tenor of the book." said lisa. i think i need to go walk and look at the grungy sidewalk" said lisa "right. it can be so beautiful in its uncleanliness" said jay "see you." lisa closed g-chat.

Moreover, this most commonly happens when the middle-aged make the mistake of thinking they have a finger on the pulse of the young when they dont, walking into new works clutching their own ideas of art, connection and social relevance like so many pearls. This book is such an egregious piece of shit hiding behind what many consider to be hipster culture that it sickens me that people got taken in by it.

It's probably fun to write like Tao. Writing like that would make me feel like most of my major organs had been removed, like I too were fucked, I guess. I feel like maybe this book is an extension of those activities, like all his online stuff is the real art and the book is an empty physical product he somehow compels you to purchase?

-- since I finished Tao Lin's vapid "it" novella "Shoplifting from American Apparel." A task completed over the course of an hour and a half that would have been better spent watching "16 and Pregnant." True story: I read more than half of this in the cafe at Barnes & Noble and knew I hated it. Our hero Sam is a bored New York City writer/organic vegan restaurant worker who sleeps until 3 p.m., then IMs Internet friends on Gmail. These are gripping back-and-forths that frequent digress into "I'm so fucked." "I'm so fucked, too." "He's so fucked." Sam seems to like iced coffee, vegan dining, and his ex-girlfriend Sheila, although it's hard to tell. All the while, Sam has some sort of cult following of people who actually want to hear him read his words in public and talk about being fans of his work. Like maybe, just maybe Lin is making a statement about blind worship, consumerism, and herd mentalities. Maybe Lin is sitting at home using Hotmail and Bing, craving gas station coffee and Olive Garden, laughing at his friend -- the one who took blurbs from the reviews of people who didn't like this book and tried to refute their claims.

I read this because I have liked Kafka and Camus and have heard this is a new century hipster version of existentialist angst and alienation. I like the title a lot! I like a lot of hipster art titles like Dear Jenny We are all Find by Jenny Zhang and Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee by Megan Boyle, blogpost lit for a generation of self-absorbed diarists. Is Lin the chronicler of the new lost generation?

My theory on this is that Proust while working with the random pieces maintains a sense of literary integrity that is not present in Joyce. My point is that if zach german is Joyce than Tao Lin is Proust. Lin's book maintains a sense of literary integrity which German can't juggle. You constantly feel that you know where you are in the story, whereas, in the German book I felt I constantly lost my sense of time. I think that Tao Lin is basically the transition point between German and traditional literature. In the German it reads as a desire for a person, here it reads almost as a desire for emotion. The German book is almost entirely about what thing could make him happy. Tao Lin allows for undifferentiated emotional content. Lin is very detailed and tells his reader entire conversations as opposed to German's "Robert and Tom talk". Now that this entire review only is accessible to people that have already read German let me make some comments about Tao Lin. Although I could tell this was autobiographical it didn't feel like Sam had to be Tao Lin although from other reviews it seems it was that character.

I can hear Tao Lin himself and him making fun of self-important contemporary writers at the same time. I'd rather read this or any other Tao Lin's book any day of the week than the old-fashioned doorstopper, 500 page-long, Pulitzer Prize, bestseller story about nazis (Hitler sells better than any other dictator) with a heroic orphan (of course), an old man with a young soul (OFC) and a blind (OFC), jew (OFC), girl (OFC), who experiences the nazi horrors (OFC) and escapes (OFC) to the coast (OFC) with a big (OFC) secret (OFC) that my wife has on her night table, recommended (of fucking course) by some talentless literature professor.

There is a line on page 80 (taken out of context) where one character says to another, "I feel good that fast food exists even when I'm not eating it." That idea can be said about this book, its style and its subject matter: I don't really like these people, I don't like their love and lack of distrust for this socially networked, alienated, and shallow consumerist world.

Sadly, the dialogue in this book falls somewhere between a particularity boring conversation with my friends and one with an aging wannabe older than the author or the main character, dropping the wrong names in an attempt to seem with it.

  • English

  • Fiction

  • Rating: 3.12
  • Pages: 112
  • Publish Date: September 15th 2009 by Melville House
  • Isbn10: 1933633786
  • Isbn13: 9781933633787