I wrote 1,500 words to get a free book.

26 Oct

shoplifting from aa

So, Tao Lin is the author of Shoplifting from American Apparel which came out in September of this year.  And if you check Hipster Runnoff as fiendishly as I do, then you’ll recognize him from the I Am Carles T-shirt promotions and random links that Carles puts up there about him and his work.  After I checked HRO earlier today I saw a link about the new Tao Lin promotional campaign and though to myself, “I’m willing to click on that,” and believe it or not, internet, I clicked.  So lo and behold, Tao Lin is offering to mail free copies of Shoplifting from American Apparel to the first 20 people that either write a 1,500 word blog post about his book (he’ll be the judge of whether or not a post is ‘”acceptably’ ‘about him’”) or post a Gmail chat about his book if they’ve read it.  So here I am, writing desperately typing for a free book (if 20 people finish this in the time between when I start writing and when I post this, I am going to kill one of them).

I’ve actually never read anything by Tao Lin, but the title sounds entertaining enough, I have a blog, and I’m a big fan of free shit, so buckle up, we’ll be here for another 1,317 words so that I can leech off of his publisher and score a free book (yes, I do recognize how pathetic is sounds to “score” a book, but you can go fuck yourself (that was 18 words!)).  From what I gather about Lin, he appears to be a pretty solid hipster.  I don’t mean that as an insult per se, but he’s in a creative industry, references American Apparel, and has written for Vice, so the shoe appears to fit.  That being said, his close relationship with HRO should probably indicate that he is also aware of this label, and is willing to poke fun at the stereotypes of his fellow citizens of Greenpoint (I have no idea where he’s from).

I’m kind of interested to see what the writing is like.  From what I gather, he generally writes in a “postmodern” style, so you know, oohh ahh refreshing.  But he has been shat on by Gawker, who are generally too busy sucking their own dicks to notice anyone else, so that is promising.  According to wikipedia, a few other critics have drawn comparisons from Camus’ The  Stranger and Mark Twain, and if his book can live up to half of those evaluations then I’ll be happy.  Actually, I’ll be happy if I actually get a free book, pretty much regardless of the content, but that’s another issue.  Anyway, I couldn’t imagine Lin’s book being as influential as either of these authors’ work simply because it won’t reach such a mainstream audience.  While there is certainly a specific demographic that a postmodern look at America culture in the internet era will appeal too, I just couldn’t imagine that students will be required to read Shoplifting from American Apparel over the summer to get a look at the local color of Brooklyn in the early 2000s.

It’s interesting to try and come up with 1,500 words worth of thoughts on a book and author you know nothing about.  I’m basically trusting in Hipster Runoff that this book will even be worth the effort of writing this many words (only a thousand left!). I’m looking forward to Jesus Christ the Band’s album, for which I believe Lin is doing the vocals.  They appear to go pretty far back.  According to the post that contained the exclusive excerpt of SFAA, he and Carles are childhood friends, which seems extremely likely.  Based on this and some of the other things I’ve read about him (selling off shares of the royalties he collects for one of his books),  it seems like he’s definitely in tune with some sort of commercial interest, but he’s a little more forthcoming with the fact that the line between art and business are extremely blurred.  Nevertheless, he has been able to gain a good deal of publicity from things that are almost labeled as publicity stunts, and for that I commend him.

But going back to the financial issue for a moment, I’m interested to see how this is portrayed in SFAA.  On the surface (again I haven’t read anything by him, so this is all bullshit speculation on my part that is done only for the purpose of receiving a free book), I would assume that there is some sort of tacit approval of shoplifting in the book simply by reading the book’s title.  Then again, it could easily also be some sort of statement on the self-destructive/self-loathing nature of hipsterdom as a whole, so I’ll let you know how that one turns out.  While we’re on that note, I may or may not let you know how that turns out.  As you may or may not know, I am currently a student, which means that I have actual shit to do that doesn’t involve reading or reporting on Shoplifting from American Apparel.  I’m not even an English major, so unless someone leaves a suggestion in the comments detailing how to incorporate this book into a paper on the global political economy, than this post will be strictly for my own benefit.

So I guess we’ll see how it goes.  I understand how the whole “disaffected youth” them can be appealing, but I kind of wonder how long it can continue for.  While the fact that I even bother typing this out probably only indicates my own age (and desperate desire to get to 1500 words for a free book), it seems that the themes of Less Than Zero or Stranger Than Paradise can only be rehashed so many more times until the whole world shares Gawker’s opinion on the matter and the whole subgenre becomes a pathetic caricature of itself.  It’s kind of like how the youth of the 60s were willing to do drugs and start (however naively) riots, where kids today just kind of stick with the drugs.  It seems like Lin’s audience is blasé enough that the best reaction he can hope for is for a few people to buy it off Amazon before their friends borrow it and shoot up more heroin (which is totally back in style!).

I checked the amazon page for this book and its only 112 pages.  I always have my doubts about short books.  While I recognize that any book that gets published goes through enough scrutiny by its publisher that it serves some purpose I always wonder whether or not the words are truly carefully chosen or if the author got bored of it and tied up the ends quickly.  And now that I think about it, I’m guessing that SFAA is the type of book that ends without much resolution in the story lines.  Meticulously chosen literary tactic or writer’s block?  I couldn’t tell you, I’m just here to bitch about anything I can till I get to 1,500 words.

I wonder if Tao Lin will accept this article as sufficiently about him.  While he is obviously the general focus, it’s pretty clear that this is only being written to get the free book.  Given his publicity stunts, I doubt this will be a problem though.  Hell, my blatant self-interested blog post is probably a statement on the condition of the modern American student’s attitude about intellectual, or at least that’s what my American Studies professor might say.  And in her defense, I’ve downloaded enough torrents to admit that I feel entitled to all the free music my internet connection can handle.  But this is not about me, it’s about Tao Lin’s book that he should be giving me for free in exchange for me cranking out 1,500 words that started about him and slowly devolved into my miscellaneous thoughts on anything vaguely related to hipsters or other things that I see as intellectually bankrupt.

That’s one good thing about writing this many words for a blog.  There is absolutely no obligation to produce quality writing.  I know that pretty much all of you (if you’ve made it this far) are probably saying to yourselves, “no shit,” it’s really convenient that blogs don’t matter.  As much as media people try and convince themselves that blogging and other interactive media are the final frontiers of media, there’s a pretty good reason why most (60-80%) blogs last for less than a month, because most people aren’t good at producing content.  For the same reason you can disregard my random ramblings about Tao Lin, you should disregard most of the millions of blogs out there, because we have not proven ourselves.  And now for the most awkward segue ever, Tao Lin has proven himself (slightly) because he has convinced a publisher to print this shit.  Regardless of whether or not you like his style and whatnot, he has created a product that a company can sell, so thanks for improving the GDP, Tao Lin, for that we are eternally grateful.

Blah Blah Blah, Shoplifting from American Apparel is out and Tao Lin writes, Hipster Runoff, free book if I write 1500 words and put it on a blog, disaffected youth, Helvetica.

Oh yeah, grab the new Big Boi track featuring Gucci Mane.  It’s good.


UPDATE: Tao Lin is not a lying sack of shit and he promptly emailed me back asking for an address.  Two day shipping!


One Response to “I wrote 1,500 words to get a free book.”

  1. yeahdevelop 10/28/2009 at 8:46 pm #

    selling advertising for advertising… your post is longer than the book

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