I don’t remember when I first learned of the existence of Tao Lin’s third novel. I think I just assumed it existed, in some form, due to Tao Lin seeming like a writer who is always working on “something” and, by the end of his career or death, will probably have written 30 to 40 books. After news broke that he had sold the rights to Vintage for $50,000 I decided to title a chapbook I had been working on (which I had previously referred to as a collection of “little bitch poems”), Tao Lin’s Third Novel as a sort of gimmick, or just something that seemed funny to do. (It worked, if you could say that, as Tao took an interest and ordered a copy, then laterpublished the work through Muumuu House.) In December of 2011 I received a package from Tao containing an unfinished draft of his third novel. It was about 30 pages, some double-sided, some not, printed from a Word document and stapled together. It was crinkled in some places and there were handwritten edits, the most prominent of which was to “insert FUCK AMERICA” (written above the beginning of the text on the first page). I was very impressed with the opening pages, which Tao said (somewhere) he has worked on for around 150 hours. I believe the novel is a fictionalized account of Tao’s life from 2010 to 2011, or the majority of his relationship with Megan Boyle, which is the central event of the book. Most of the names had been changed, though some remained unchanged in my copy, with references to Brandon Scott Gorrell, Jordan Castro, Mallory Whitten, etc. throughout.
The novel begins with Tao [character’s name is “Paul”] waking up and then looking at the internet while in bed. It seems really funny to start a novel this way. I felt more interested while reading this than I had while reading the opening of either of Tao’s previous novels.
The first section of the novel occurs, I think, immediately after finishing work on Richard Yates, which was expected to be a time Paul would use to relax and maybe “calmly organize things in his room,” but ended up being a time of extreme drug use and almost constant “partying.” A strong supporting character in this first section is “Daniel,” who I think is based on David Fishkind (though is probably more a composite of David Fishkind and one or more other people), due to various clues, such as an account of a party at Zachary German’s apartment which had previously been written about by both Tao and David on their respective blogs (at least one of which, Tao’s, has been taken down) and also appears during this first section of the novel. I remember reading these accounts when they were first published on the internet. It seemed really funny and memorable due to Tao and David’s behavior at the party. Zachary was “being mean” and asked David, or someone, to leave, which prompted Tao to convince all of the other guests to leave with them. He then lead the giant group of people somewhat aimlessly through the streets to an “other party,” which maybe didn’t exist. The group walked in the wrong direction before changing directions, and then everyone left. Red Bull Cola is mentioned, I think.
After the relationship between Paul and Megan Boyle [“Erin”] begins, the setting moves from New York to Baltimore, Las Vegas, Taiwan, Ohio, and Spain, I think, before ending in New York. In my copy, Las Vegas, Taiwan, and Spain were omitted.