Title: Tai Pei by Tao Lin
Amazon Link: Here
Publication Date: June 2013
I’m starting with a novel that I read in 2018. Why am I reviewing a book I read a year ago? How can you trust my memory or first impressions of this book? Because it was one of my favorites that I read that year. I remember finishing this book in 3 days, because it captivated me so much.
Not many people in my life knew who this author was, and I didn’t know much about him either until I came across this book. It was the first of his that I read. I went on to read: Richard Yates, Shoplifting from American Apparel, and Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change. But Tai Pei was my favorite! And unfortunately, the only book of his that I really enjoyed.
This novel is 256 pages of drug fueled interactions among friends within daily life with no meaning or consequence for the reader surrounding the viewpoint and relationships of narrator, Paul. Paul (I believe) is meant to be an extension of the author’s experiences. Lin appears to base his novels in the same narcissism and simple story telling as author Richard Yates (Lin also wrote a book titled after the author). Lin’s writing style is minimalist, and a dialogue between narcissist and novelist, Paul, and his friends and girlfriends. “Paul, who viewed friends mostly as means to girlfriends, he knew, contrary to Michelle (Paul’s first love interest in the book), who valued them as ends” (pg. 7). Lin also introduces the characters by their names and ages, yet barely gives other descriptions of those characters, leaving it up for the reader to imagine their manner. The book, though minimalist, is well written with a flowing dialogue, though the story jumps throughout this given period in Paul’s life. Paul does not experience growth, but realizes more about himself.
Why would you want to read about such a self centered character? Because Paul is relatable, and personifies the idea we live our lives as the main character, and the people we meet are consequences of our choices that help us move into the next phase. Also, the poignant way Lin details their interactions is alluring and personal. The novel ultimately reflects the narcissism and boredom of the post-computer generation. Tai Pei is truly a unique read for the fiction genre.
I give this novel 3 out of 5 stars *
Thanks for reading!