Life What Tao Lin Can Tell You About Seattle Based on the People He’s Met Who Are from Here
posted by May 2 at 8:30 AMon
(He lives in Brooklyn.)
Here’s a paragraph from his piece chosen at random:
OBESITY ISN’T A PROBLEM IN SEATTLE
People in Seattle seem less obese. I felt little or no intimations of obesity while there and I don’t know anyone from there who is obese or even overweight. In Brooklyn, it is difficult for me to view anyone as “not obese or overweight.” In Brooklyn, people seem “beat down” and “made obese” by unseen forces, whereas in Seattle people seem “strengthened” by some kind of aura of well-being emanating maybe from the downtown library. People in New York City eat at Taco Bell a lot; people in Seattle are knowledgeable about not mixing food groups. On my book tour, I had dinner with someone who talked about fasting every six months. I can’t remember ever having dinner with someone in New York City who viewed “fasting” as a possibility.
Can’t resist—one more:
SEATTLE TRICKS PEOPLE
When I make myself think concretely about Seattle, I get an image of a 12-year-old Native American boy reading a Sherman Alexie story collection in a Starbucks and it’s raining outside, then I seriously think, “The harsh reality of growing up in Seattle. Seems bad. Hard.” But if I think abstractly about Seattle, I feel a strange emotion like I’m currently living in a clean, well-furnished house with expensive electronic equipment in Tennessee in May by a small river on a green hill with no other houses nearby and that I have a steady cash flow and am working on multiple projects each day with a lot of excitement and no obligations. It feels really good and the opposite of hard. So “Seattle” abstractly means to me something like “basking in the sunlight of overwhelming gratitude for life and art” but concretely means to me something like “feeling like there’s no possible routes for escaping a life of poverty and alcoholism while staring at sentences written by Sherman Alexie in an environment of people shouting things like ‘quadruple soy latte.’” I don’t know. I feel “tricked.”
P.S. Here come the letters! The subject line of this one is “Worthless, really worthless”:
I grew up here and always find I want to know what the rest of the world thinks of our little green universe in the Upper Lefthand Corner. It’s kind of mossy and insecure, I know. But now I never want to know what Tao Lin thinks.
What was that cover writ you published by Lin supposed to be? A reflection? A portrait? It was terrible. It wasn’t impressionistic or surrealistic or clever or funny or well-written or worthwhile. He must have penned it in one setting after three beers. Why the heck did you run it? I just don’t get it.
Well, you made up for it with Paul Constant’s hearty recommendation for Island Soul, which I drive by but will now eat at. Thank you for that. But fire Tao Lin — he can’t write at all.