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Bed: Stories [Kindle Edition]

Tao Lin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

College students, recent graduates, and their parents work at Denny's, volunteer at a public library in suburban Florida, attend satanic ska/punk concerts, eat Chinese food with the homeless of New York City, and go to the same Japanese restaurant in Manhattan three times in two sleepless days, all while yearning constantly for love, a better kind of love, or something better than love, things which--much like the Loch Ness Monster--they know probably do not exist, but are rumored to exist and therefore "good enough."

"Tao Lin's territory is the rich, neglected space between the bigger things we thought we already knew. Only in his hands everything becomes strange -- a little warped, a little sad, and a whole lot more intriguing. With understated lyricism, he reminds us that if we can't fix things, then at least we can try to see them with perfect clarity."
--Todd Hasak-Lowy, author of The Task of This Translator

"I just finished Bed and feel like it's the kind of prose I'd like to be writing, somewhere between Haruki Murakami and Lydia Davis, but a little younger. It's thought provoking work that rides the line between discomfort and humour.'"
--Jeffrey Brown, author of Clumsy

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This set of nine pseudo-autobiographical, woe-is-our-generation absurdist tales updates Oblamov for worried 21st century slackerdom. Lin's characters will be familiar to MySpace denizens, whether they're struggling through college in a busy city, stifling in an exhausted relationship just for the body heat, or missing their parents (but not knowing how to tell them without sounding as if asking for money). Settings are cheekily vague: "Love Is A Thing On Sale For More Money Than Exists," about a much-needed break-up, takes place during "the month that people began to suspect terrorists had infiltrated Middle America," while "Nine, Ten," a love story about two nine-year-olds and their divorced parents, occurs during the year that people "got a bit careless." As precocious children, depressing descriptions of urban pollution and beached marine life pile up, it becomes clear that Lin's subject is the inadequacy of conventional tools and wisdom for coping with the era of the War on Terror: "Was the future now? Or was it coming up still?... all that was promised... was not here, and would probably never be here. They had lied. Someone had lied." Such observations make the flat, matter-of-fact prose and aimless pop culture references come into vivid focus.
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"Tao Lin writes from moods that less radical writers would let pass--from laziness, from vacancy, from boredom. And it turns out that his report from these places is moving and necessary, not to mention frequently hilarious."
--Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You

"In structure and tone, [the stories in Bed] have the feel of early Lorrie Moore and Deborah Eisenberg. Like Moore's characters, there are a lot of plays on language and within each story, a return to the same images or ideas--or jokes. And like Moore, most of these characters live in New York, are unemployed or recently employed, and are originally from somewhere more provincial (Florida in Lin's case, Wisconsin in Moore's). However, Lin knows to dig a little deeper into his characters--something we see in Moore's later stories, but less so in her early ones."
--Jennifer Bassett, KGB Bar Lit Magazine 

"An Updikian minimalism is on full display in Bed, a collection of nine stories that are mainly concerned with romantic relationships and how they fall apart. Lin's...fiction mixes unpretentious prose and a robust sense of the ridiculous. a newfangled writer with some excellent old-school storytelling techniques...An adventurous new talent."
--Time Out New York

"[A] harsh and absurd new voice in writing. Employing Raymond Carver's poker face and Lydia Davis's bleak analytical mind, Lin renders ordinary--but tortured-- landscapes of failed connections among families and lovers that will be familiar to anyone who has been unhappy....The prose is poetic and downright David Lynch-ian."
--Time Out Chicago 

Product Details

  • File Size: 434 KB
  • Print Length: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (December 29, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,306 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars freedom from depression April 14, 2007
After reading this book I felt like I wanted to be really nice to people. Tao Lin writes in a way that is descriptive but doesn't place any significance or emphasis on anything. He writes about lonely and depressed people who have been rejected from society which normal people would add drama to to make their story seem "heartwrenching" but Lin instead treats loneliness and isolation as "everyday facts of life" just as how it is a commonly accepted fact that there are some people born with brown hair and some born with blonde or black. Lin's dismissal of topical issues and distinctions makes BED a very detached and existentially consoling book for anyone to relate to. save the dolphins.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job. March 11, 2008
I feel like a jerk for being surprised that such a young writer could do what Tao Lin does. The beginnings of the stories in Bed make me feel like I am an ant being picked up and dropped in a swimming pool in New Jersey. The middles and ends of the stories in Bed make me feel like I am an ant not quite dying for some reason, in a swimming pool in New Jersey, hearing muzak being piped in from underwater speakers. They are all slightly different from one another. They are all good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tao Lin: Part 3 August 5, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I encountered Tao Lin's writing at a time in my life when I was very much predisposed to like it: Eeeee Eee Eeee (as I contemplating quitting an unfulfilling job as an attorney), Shoplifting from American Apparel (in the immediate aftermath of leaving that position and breaking up with my girlfriend) and, finally, Bed (several weeks into my unemployment and bachelorhood). The untethered, wary, existential aspects of his fiction, also knowing that it was being drawn in large parts from the author's life, appealed to my worldview.

I read Bed over the course of two afternoons at a table outside Good Karma Cafe in Philadelphia, drinking a series of iced coffees and taking advantage of the spectacular girl-watching opportunities of that locale. Over the course of my unemployment, this shop became my go-to destination for wasting away the afternoon with a good book. The friendly atmosphere lent itself to conversations with other patrons. I noticed that gay men tended to strike up conversations with me when I read Haroki Murakami, pretty girls when I read David Foster Wallace or Rivka Galchen. No one spoke to me when I read Tao Lin.

This was a bit disappointing, since I feel like Bed marks the author's most accessible work. I generally stuttered and mumbled extremely unsatisfying descriptions when asked about EEE or SFAA but I feel as if I'd have had some really cogent and specific things to say about Bed, if only anyone had bothered to ask. (Thanks, internet.)

The short stories in this collection seem focused in the way that Lin's novels are sprawling, while still maintaining the major stylistic and thematic elements of his work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cohesive collection of short Stories June 25, 2010
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After reading Eeee Eee Eeeee and Shoplifting from American Apparel I find that this collection of short stories by Tao Lin explores many of the same themes but does so in a way that is easier to follow and is, obviously, more concise. The dialogue as well as the narrative is much easier to follow through most of these stories than it is in Lin's longer works. I have enjoyed this book and read it quite quickly after getting them in the mail. Aside from the content I really like the singular design concept among each of his works.

If you are looking to start reading the works of Tao Lin I feel as this is a great place to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars review by ramzi shalabi August 11, 2013
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i feel like this book will grow on me. when i first picked it up and found it to lack the 'personified animals' i was a tad dissapointed. i was expecting depressed pandas or something. but i think its gonna get better with another read. i started to 'get it' about half way in maybe. i think it will hold up as one of tao's best. the writing is very focused, like all his stuff, and i found most everything in it very relateable (which isnt a word i guess).

i like just holding the book and looking at it too. its a really nice publication.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's probably best not to think about your life..." February 17, 2015
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"It was probably best not to think about your life, though—ever—Greg knew, but just to assume that it was there, and happening, to trust that it was out there, doing whatever it was that a life would do."
This is the first Tao Lin book I bought and it's pretty great. He goes to weird places in people's heads like few other author do. Encapsulates the struggle of connecting the world inside your brain with the outside one. The stories are lonely and funny. If you're a David Foster Wallace fan, you will love this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably his best . . . July 25, 2013
By Kenso
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tao Lin is hardly a mainstream writer, at least in this book, but these stories are good. They are a break from his novels and poetry.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars in April 8, 2008
By ariaria
i enjoyed this book. buy this book as a present for another person or yourself. buy it, do it, do it. you will feel good and surprised, maybe, to have it arrive in the mail. to feel really good you ought to buy it from an independent publisher because then you'll help decrease suffering, i think. this book makes me want to be nice to everyone, especially people who i think i don't like, which is silly because not liking other people is like not liking yourself, which is also possible but self-defeatist, um why does not being self-defeatist matter, uh i feel confused right now.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tao Lin:
Neat stories from a cool guy
Published 3 months ago by Alex
3.0 out of 5 stars Condition of book is great...content not so much
I love the titles, but I just don't, at least at this point, get into Tao Lin...I expect that there is more there than is apparent to me.
Published 20 months ago by Robert W. Mohs
1.0 out of 5 stars meh
Purchased for a class. Stories are strange & themes repeat themselves. I have a hard time seeing why this was published at all.
Published 24 months ago by Jennifer Parks
5.0 out of 5 stars Colege supplemental book
Arrived timely and in god condition. Being used as a supplemental book and has proven to be very helpful as well as economical.
Published on March 1, 2013 by BTJ5
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Jordan Castro
The stories in "Bed" are funny, moving, stylistically exciting, and relatable. Lin personifies certain types of alienation, loneliness, depression, social-anxiety, existential... Read more
Published on December 19, 2012 by Jordan Castro
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird and depressing
While I can appreciate Tao Lin's writing style, I do not enjoy it. He's a talented writer, but this book is full of stories about depressing people who lead boring and... Read more
Published on August 21, 2010 by Melissa N.
3.0 out of 5 stars eighties fiction for the 21st century
Tao Lin, Bed (Melville House, 2007)

Eighties fiction still lives, and lives large, in the work of Tao Lin. Read more
Published on December 7, 2008 by Robert Beveridge
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More About the Author

Tao Lin (b. 1983) is the author of three novels--Taipei (2013), Richard Yates (2010), and Eeeee Eee Eeee (2007)--a novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel (2009), a story collection, Bed (2007), and two poetry collections: cognitive-behavioral therapy (2008), you are a little bit happier than i am (2006). His writing has been published by Granta, New York Times, New York Times Book Review, New York Observer, Poetry Foundation, Vice, Noon, Mississippi Review, and other venues. He edits Muumuu House, a literary publisher, and teaches a class called The Contemporary Short Story in Sarah Lawrence College's MFA program. (Photo by Noah Kalina.)

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