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Tao Lin's poetry is an absurdist invitation to depression. "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy" is a largely free verse (there are intermittent bursts of rhyme and meter, making it more difficult to pigeonhole) documentation of Lin's seemingly depressed psyche. Frequently employing repeated images such as hamsters with numerous emotional afflictions, and headbutts as methods of social intercourse, the book is highly disjointed, an effect that heighten's Lin's existential, nihilistic yet smug poetic self-loathing.

Although appreciating originality, I did not have great affectation for Lin's writing style and homage to E. E. Cummings. No capitalization or punctuation may work in a short poem like "i know at all times that in four hours i will feel completely different"[sic] (pp. 54-55), but not on a gigantically long and rambling monstrosity as is found on pp. 84-101, which not only bears no title or coherence, but also admits "i forgot what this poem was about"[sic] on p. 90. This is probably closer to the truth than Lin would like to admit.

I loved some of Lin's odd phrasings and think he has great talent and a bright literary future. This volume left me wanting more. Angst-filled hamsters may very well be great subject matter for a collection of poetry, but this volume comes across more as a collection of personal hangups scribbled in unedited form in a conscious attempt to subvert every formal poetic methodology known to western literature.
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on May 25, 2015
What an amazing book
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on August 4, 2010
It's funny and you will laugh if you like unconventional humor but it does drone on...just as being psychoanalyzed gets boring this will, too...
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on March 8, 2014
as i was reading richard yates, i found something that tao lin had said about this being a book he had written about the relationship between himself (haley joel osment) and his girlfriend at the time (dakota fanning). i found myself laughing at many parts of this collection, but i felt very burdened by his writing style, in the sense that it was very heavy and left me thinking. (this is a good type of burden)
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on August 6, 2013
I have decided that in spite of the provocative titles Tao Lin is perhaps not for me...perhaps for another person
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on May 3, 2008
This slim volume will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about hamsters, and many things you didn't.
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on July 19, 2014
Tao Lin's poetry in this collection flirts between brutally honest open analogy, creative metaphor, and complete rambling inanity. Sadly, most of the poems lean towards the latter - nonsensical analogies and word-choices abound, as well as repetition, whiny language, and sentence after sentence with no substance or meaning to grip on to. I liked the bits in-between larger sections that glimmered with insight or tangible depression, communicating the emotion of the author effectively, but mostly it felt like a series of blog posts were put into a paper-shredder and vomited out onto paper.

I might venture a 2.5 if one was available, but as is, I wouldn't recommend this collection. Parts of it were enjoyable and easy to digest, but mostly it felt like a slog through vaguely neurotic vocabulary exercise and masturbation.
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Dream on, dude! A little of this stuff could be construed as a symptom; too much and it threatens to become the disease. But Ugly Fish #1 and Giant Poem #13 hit the spot; they alone would justify this slim volume. So there's hope, Tao Lin. But Brooklyn's lovely - you should really get out more

NB When I want a bit of negativity to spice up my life - there's really nothing like it - I tend to favour the dour Frank Kuppner: despair you can relate to!! Be the first outside Scotland to discover him - apart from me that is

PS Another reviewer has complained about a surfeit of hamsters in Giant Poem. This doesn't trouble me, and I quite like the Taco Bell motif (we know for whom it tolls); Jambo Juice also has a certain je ne sais quoi - though Evander Holyfield, to these English ears, lacks resonance; maybe that's his function?
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on December 19, 2012
Reading this book was the first time I can distinctly remember thinking in depth about the way I view my relationship between my thoughts, feelings, and actions. Some of the philosophy expressed in these poems helped me, and still helps me, feel less bad about things, via viewing feelings as results of thinking and knowing that I'm able, to a large degree, to choose/control the way I react to [external thing/situation]. The poems in this book explore things like cognitive-behavioral therapy, publically owned companies vs. independently owned companies, hamsters, and relationships, among other things.

I enjoy reading these poems. I like how concise the poems are. They seem intentional and intelligent. I grinned a lot while reading the poems with hamsters as characters and felt pensive while reading most of the poems. I feel like this book could help a lot of people.

This is one of my favorite poetry books. Highly recommended.
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on June 11, 2008
i think a lot about this book and tao lin's other books

the first time i read this i was so excited i read it all in one sitting

it is hard for me normally to read more than three poems in one sitting

i normally stand up and do something else

there are a lot of poems that have multiple parts to it like in the books BAD BAD by chelsey minnis or ANGLE OF YAW by ben lerner but different because of the hampsters and sadness and other things

the poem 'are you okay?' made me so sad that i had to stop reading and lie down on the couch and think for a minute

my friend asked me if this book is funny like his other book of poety and i said 'no, no it is never funny. i didn't laugh once while reading it' and i did not realize that was true until i said it even though i lied a little

some parts are actually very funny, but not funny in a way that makes me laugh out loud, but just makes me smile and feel 'consoled'

i just opened the book and looked at 'ugly fish poem, part one' and read this sentence: "and i have swum fast; any speed that exists i have swum at that speed"

that makes me laugh i don't know why

this book made me sad a lot and i don't think i will look at it as much as 'you are a little bit happier than i am' but that is okay, because that book made me excited about life and stuff in ways that few things ever have, i don't know
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