June 21, 2011
New "relationship story" by Tao Lin seems to feature new style
by Melville House
After a long hiatus from fiction (while making movies and getting married) Tao Lin has published a new story titled “Relationship Story” at Vice. The magazine prefaces the story with the warning that “Those familiar with the author will most likely vehemently hate or thoroughly enjoy this selection, which is the appropriate divide for the kind of fiction we will be publishing in VICE, every month from here on out.” The story shares a theme (the problems of romantic love) as Lin’s last novel, Richard Yates, but the style seems to have shifted. While some sections feature Lin’s “concrete/literal” style of direct, unvarnished exactitude of dialogue and detail, other sections seem to incorporate a new degree of interiority, openness to abstraction, and metaphorical expansiveness:
They stood not looking at each other as the rain fell on them in an idle, general insistence of somethingness. Paul felt himself trying to interpret the situation, as if there was a problem to be solved, but there wasn’t anything, or maybe there was but Paul was three or four skill sets away from comprehending it, like an amoeba trying to create a personal webpage using CSS….[T]hese intuitions manifested in Paul as an uncomplicated feeling of bleakness, that he was in the center of something bad, whose confines were expanding, as he remained in the same place. Faintly he recognized in this a kind of humor, but mostly he was aware of the rain, continuous and everywhere as an incognizable information, and he turned and walked onto the street, gleaming from wetness, to return to the party.
As always, we’re glad to see new work by Tao, and are eager to see where his writing and sensibility take him next.