Twitter is the medium of the disenfranchised youth.
Tao Lin is a writer living in New York City who has published three novels and various articles online. He operates Muumuu House and is the figurehead of alternative literature.
In 2010, Lin published "Richard Yates," a book about a recent college graduate’s relationship with an underage girl, which won him controversy and fame.
In 2013, Vintage published his third novel, "Tai Pei." "Tai Pei" is a semi-autobiographical novel about the life of a 20-something. It was a critical hit and cemented Lin's place as a premier young American novelist.
Now coming in May 2015 is “Selected Tweets,” a split-book containing tweets from Lin and alt-lit protege Mira Gonzalez. The book is slated to drop from alt lit publisher Hobart.
About two weeks ago, I mailed Lin after noticing an open call for advanced reviewers of his upcoming book. About four days later, I received a manilla package in the mail.
The book is small and compact. It consists of roughly 400 pages split evenly between Lin's and Gonzalez's selected tweets.
On Lin’s side, the first tweets dates from August 16 2008 and extend until December 2014. During this time, Lin was active on six different Twitter handles.
Intuited a feeling of intimacy and deep friendship I think in the relationship between the human species & the orange fruit while eating 1
— Tao Lin (@tao_lin) Feb. 9, 2014
Even as an avid twitter user and a long-time follower of Lin's account, I was skeptical when first starting the book. I was afraid I would be confronted with random ideas with no semblance of order. Instead, I was set at ease when the first three tweets set the context.
As Lin presents his selection of his tweets over a six-year span one begins to see the narrative unfold.I began to understand that the tweets weren't selected arbitrarily but rather were set in specific and careful order to form a storyline.
Mostly, Twitter resembles a diary that is being written publicly and in real time. To Lin and Gonzalez, twitter is also a tool for writing. Like a director Lin and Gonzalez exhibit their creative power by picking and choosing which tweets to include in the overarching narrative.
They may include long panning shots, similar to the opening sequences of Kubrick's 2001: A space Odyssey. Or like Godard, the tweets may jump vivaciously from one moment to the next. And Lin employs both throughout the selection.
Only since the birth of digital culture are we allowed to broadcast intimate thoughts to the phones of thousands of followers. Lin takes this idea and propels it forward. He turns twitter into a medium of memoir or autobiography.
The book is often quirky and funny, sometimes a profound meditation and sometimes banal.
Splurged on colored pencils
— Tao Lin (@tao_lin) Nov. 30, 2014
Overall, the book is entertaining and unlike anything else available in the literature world both in and out of the sphere of alt lit.
Next week I explore Steve Roggenbuck, an alt-lit poet and video maker that is not directly associated with Tao Lin.
Follow the reporter on twitter @looooogaaan.