My Writing

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Bed" by Tao Lin

I liked this book. I had previously read all of Tao's books except for this one and his first poetry collection, you are a little bit happier than i am (still have yet to read that one). Bed has a much different prose style than a lot of Tao's writing, especially his more recent writing. There are long sentences in Bed with many clauses; there are---to allow for lists or multiple embedded clauses---semicolons; and he includes a lot of similes and metaphors.

The nine stories in Bed seem to feature mostly sad characters, many of whom are going through periods in their lives when they are unsure of the future/what they are doing/what they will ever do. I liked some stories more than others, but all of the stories impressed me in terms of conventional notions of execution in the short story form (careful and often creative word choice, interesting characters, presentation and development of themes), and I liked how the stories seemed to present the characters' emotions in a forthright way.

My favorite stories in the collection, which I really loved, were "Love is a Thing on Sale for More Money Than There Exists," "Three-Day Cruise," "Love is the Indifferent God of the Religion in which Universe is Church," and "Sasquatch." The first is the story of a relationship, and I was very interested to find that elements of Richard Yates, Tao's most recent book, can be found in this, the first story in his first book. The arguments the couples have, re timeliness, consideration, weight gain, as well as the notion of lying in a relationship, are present in both works.

"Three-Day Cruise" is a story about a family. I really liked the characterization of the family members, and I thought it had a very effective opening and ending. This story has all of the elements I love in Tao's work: a strangeness, a diversity of tone, philosophical ideas, and parts that made me feel emotional.

"Love is the Indifferent God of the Religion in which Universe is Church" is the kind of story I will have to read several more times to feel like I better understand it. It is about two brothers, the older brother's girlfriend, and a mysterious little girl named Michelle who go to the same Japanese restaurant three times in 48 hours. I feel like I could write a long essay on just this story. It has very interesting and curious characters; there are a lot of metaphors and philosophical ideas in it; the ending is ambiguous.

"Sasquatch," the last story, is possibly my single favorite (it's either that or "Three-Day Cruise"), and for me it was a very satisfying end to the collection. It is about a girl who works at Denny's, her emotions, and her relationship with her father. It is very beautiful, I feel.

"Though she'd begun to get a little fat that winter, it was in February, around when her father found a toy poodle (sitting there, in the side yard, watchful and expectant as a person), and adopted it, that a weightlessness entered into Chelsea's blood---an inside ventilation, like a bacteria of ghosts---and it was sometime in the fall, before her 23rd birthday, that her heart, her small and weary core, neglected now for years, vanished a little, from the center out, took on the strange and hollowed heaviness of a weakly inflated balloon."


  1. i feel like our "reviews" are remarkably similar with the exception of a disparity in length