Tao Lin – Shoplifting from American Apparel

After watching a segment on Tao Lin on Babel, the excellent Swedish TV-show on literature, I put him down on my To Read-list. I picked up a copy of Shoplifting from American Apparel (Swedish title: Sno kläder på American Apparel) from the library.

The book portraits the tech oriented fellowship of young people very well, and it oozes of the awkwardness that youth without a sense of social direction tend to exude. Something I can identify with quite easily, as this was pretty much my own life from my late teens to mid twenties.

But that’s all this book has got going for it. The writing is very rigid and to the point, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Lin turns into a mere pile of events. Highly uninteresting events. My main problem with the book is that nothing happens. There’s no story. The only interesting bit is when the main character is caught shoplifting and has to spend a day in jail. The rest of the book is just nothing.

When reading, I felt like I was being played a joke by the author. Like he’s experimenting with how badly and awkwardly he can write and still maintain an audience. To see how much name dropping and vegan smoothies he can get into a hundred pages without getting called on it. As if he’s attempting irony, but failing, on purpose, ironically.

Perhaps this book isn’t representative of his work in general, and the translation didn’t do it any favours. But truth be told, I think this was enough Tao Lin for me.