This hatchet job in The Millions leans toward the latter. I am inclined to agree. Lin is, without a doubt, always trying to do something, I just seem to abhor whatever it is he is attempting to do. Lydia Kiesling, in her own attempt to put a finger on what she despises about his new novel Taipei, becomes delightfully negative—so unlike Lin’s colorless writing.
Speaking of inane remarks, reading Taipei came as close as anything can come to putting me on mute. I suddenly began hearing my own voice when I spoke within earshot of others, particularly people older than I. On the BART platform, I heard myself say “It was, like, not what I was planning to have happen,” and my voice trailed off as I became conscious of the poverty of my spoken expression, how much I must sometimes sound like the people in Taipei (“‘I feel like I’m unsarcastically viewing this as a major ordeal,’ said Calvin.”) I was born the year after Tao Lin; hearing our shared idiom come out of my own mouth, I realized that some of my loathing for this book is very personal. There is a fearful recognition of those things I want most to cleanse from my self-presentation, and self.
This realization brought another weak florescence of respect for Tao Lin…
…Only a real codger would say this, but if this is the output we can expect from one of our bright young things, we’re fucked.