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Taipei (Vintage Contemporaries Original) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Original
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307950174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307950178
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Guest Review of Taipei, by Tao Lin

By Charles Yu

Charles Yu

Charles Yu is the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which was named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero, and was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. His work has been published in The New York Times, Playboy, and Slate, among other periodicals. Yu lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Michelle, and their two children.

What does it feel like to be alive? It's an inquiry central to many novels, either explicitly or implicitly, and it has been explored in so many ways, in so many variations and permutations, that it's remarkable when someone finds a new way of asking the question. With Taipei, Tao Lin has managed to do just that. The novel's protagonist, Paul, is a twenty-something writer living in New York City who has at least two extraordinary capabilities: (1) a terrifyingly high tolerance for pharmacological substances, and (2) a prodigious ability to record and recount the moment-to-moment flow of micro-impressions and fleeting sensations of his awareness. While Lin may not be the first writer to combine these two elements in the form of a novel, he is the first one to synthesize them in this particular way, and it is the tension and interaction of these things that make Taipei such a compelling read.

What does it feel like to be alive? Weird. Really weird. That's something very easy to forget - we have an ability to acclimate quickly to our own ambient mental environment. For similar reasons, the fundamental strangeness of being alive is also very hard to articulate. What Tao Lin does is to slow everything down, paying very close attention to everything, registering his findings. The noise and bustle and all-night lights of the big city, first New York City, and then Taipei, the blur of pills and parties and people's faces are presented not as an impressionistic smear, but in careful, deliberate language, prose so precise it cannot be anything but excruciatingly honest. At times, Taipei feels like an experiment, a study on how to use (and abuse) your brain, with Paul communicating in a way that almost feels scientific - he's a scientist studying the strange thing called his self, or an alien who experiences human consciousness as if he were test-driving a brand new technology. It is this detachment which allows Lin to render, in a very pure, very visceral way, what the fringe feels like, a displacement or distance from the center, from your own heart, the psychological impossibility of going to some real or imagined home. Taipei renders all of this with a brute and direct force, and I admit at times that force caused me to flinch. This kind of experience is why I read, though - to be challenged, to be confronted, to experience something completely familiar that has been made entirely new.

From Booklist

This novel follows Paul, a young, Brooklyn-based author, as his drug addiction spirals out of control. Though he experiments at first in the name of artistic expression, Paul becomes consumed by apathy, tripping during interviews and drifting out of touch with old friends. He meets and marries Erin, a fellow artist drug user, and they move to Taipei, Taiwan, where they become performance artists, videotaping themselves while on drugs in public. As their relationship breaks down, Paul nearly overdoses and is finally thankful to be alive. The characters are visibly suffering from loneliness, desperately wounded self-esteem, and an aimlessness that leads them to wander from poetry reading to movie theater to party to party, making the briefest and shallowest of encounters with those around them. Tao Lin’s writing style is definitively unique and mirrors the shifting reality his drugged characters perceive when submerged in their daze. At times, however, it is a haze too thick for the unencumbered reader to peer through. --Sarah Grant

More About the Author

Tao Lin (b. 1983) is the author of 7 books of fiction & poetry. His 3rd novel TAIPEI was published by Vintage on June 4, 2013. His work has been published by New York Times, New York Times Book Review, Granta, Noon, Mississippi Review, New York Observer, Vice, Gawker, The Believer, Poetry Foundation. He has taught a graduate course on "The Contemporary Short Story" at Sarah Lawrence College. He edits the literary press Muumuu House & lives in Manhattan. (Photo by Noah Kalina.)

Customer Reviews

I did finally manage to wade through this, but really, I don't think you'll find this one worth trying to read and enjoy.
Neal C. Reynolds
I get that's it's meant to be absurdist and I like some novels that are written that way, but I just didn't think this book worked on any level.
Brian J. Greene
Inso, I'm not expecting him to flaunt his ethnicity, but he could have educated readers at least somewhat on Taipei and Taiwanese culture.
nycgirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Megan Boyle on August 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Allow me to inteoduce my review: The past few times I've been on Molly or ecstasy I've wanted to review Taipei because I remember Tao encouraging people to review this book while peaking on MDMA or adderall

Here's what happened, introduction part 2: rememvwred the review in the bathtub (introduction part 3: I am peaking on ecstasy in a bathtub at a friend's house), decided 'the people in the next room don't need to know what I'm doing, they are talking to each other so maybe they won't notice,' wrapped towel around me, ran into room, grabbed phone, said 'I have some business to take care of' and ran back into bathtub

Just shouted 'business' to people in other room saying 'what are you doing'

This is a review of Taipei

Shit I forget it completely right now

There was a draft I read where monkfish was focused on more than in the final book I think

Peaking

I'm putting my mouth in the water and letting the water go in and out like a fish and t feels good

Taipei

I'm now accessing 'time period when I think the things in Taipei happened' and it feels very far away but beautiful and twinkly like a distant parade or sound of an ice cream truck

If Taipei was a food it would be a Bartlett pear

You don't need to know why

If Taipei were a person it'd be...shit....who...thought 'Adam Robinson' but that's completely inaccurate somehow

I am not currently authorized to decide what person it would be like

If Taipei were a country it would be a transparent cube about the size of Australia that floats right at the point where it stops being earth and becomes outer space

If it were something at 7-11 it would be...
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57 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Peter Mathews on June 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tao Lin is hot property in the world of contemporary literature, with Taipei, his third novel, being hailed as his breakthrough work. Part of his appeal lies, no doubt, in his capacity to divide: whether as a person and a writer, he tends either to inspire adoration as the voice of his generation or hatred for being a shallow impostor. Lin also complicates matters further by blurring the lines between fiction and autobiography in making Paul, the protagonist of Taipei, into a rather transparent stand-in for his own self. Paul essentially shares every aspect of Tao Lin's history, from his Taiwanese background to his rampant drug use.

One of Lin's champions is Bret Easton Ellis, and it is perhaps no surprise that Taipei is being compared to Ellis's debut novel Less Than Zero (1985). In terms of personality, though, these two writers could not be more different. Unlike the self-promoting, egoistic Ellis, Lin, to coin a term, is a "black hole" provocateur. In the interviews I have read, he comes across as curiously passive and non-committal, much like the protagonist of Taipei, in a way that initially makes me want to punch him in the face for his apparent pretentiousness but, after further consideration, makes me also admire his ability to provoke such a reaction in spite of his utterly flavorless personality (nonetheless, I still want to punch him in the face).

Taipei had a similar effect on me as I was reading it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sneaky-sneaky VINE VOICE on December 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's just not for me. Gazing into one's own navel and writing about the lint and how uncomfortable it makes me feel as I walk around the city and stare, pout, frown, ogle, and sidelong-glance at other uncomfortable people is not my idea of entertainment. The few gimmicks the author has are used incessantly, Fred, 24, talks to Jane, 26. Off the sidewalk it is soil-y. Remains on the plate are salad-y. Really, -y is an innovation? I'm sure Mr. Lin means well, and it's not his fault he has been tagged as the future's future, but gimme something to work with, maybe a good guy and a bad guy and a car chase, angst just aint doin it for 300 pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Everts VINE VOICE on April 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I get where people are coming from. Its got a different style to it. You are either going to love this or hate it I guess.

As for me, I was able to read it, but found myself thinking that the writers style was not my thing. In some instances it felt like reading a textbook as he introduced characters and used commas to call out their age in the same sentence.

Check out a chapter on Amazon, you can see enough to get the idea of the flow of the book.

Its one of those books I guess you gotta try yourself before you really know, its just not for me.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cyan on April 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
^ Yup.

His prose is uninspiring and his voice completely pathetic.
This book is like the diary of a loser.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By realnaynay on March 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was hard to read, with seemingly pointless flashbacks, and confusing dialog. I love to read, but I honestly did not find anything enjoyable about this book. The anti-hero, Paul, is prone to suddenly shift from the present to an totally unrelated incident from his childhood, and there was nothing smooth or linear about the flashbacks.

I would not recommend this book
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