Sunday, 2 October 2011

Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin

Bears like to put
blankets on moose
Having walked past Shoplifting from American Apparel (thanks to John Barth I've been reminded to italicize the names of complete works, among other things) for several months after it became a mainstay of the cult fiction display (hurrah for Bert!) of a local book chain, and dismissing it casually due to its self-confidently svelte appearance, I was finally convinced by a split-tongued straight-edger of the relative merits of Lin's oeuvre whilst he was chuckling his way through another, Richard Yates, and wondering aloud why Dakota Fanning wasn't being assaulted more often. At random, I poked blindly at the shelves around the letter L willing fate to procure a serendipitous gem and came up with a book the title of which I was unable to pronounce without some sort of context. That context is, less than quixotically, dolphins.
What Lin serves up as I was to find soon after is a tale of Karinthian (which is to say, Kafka-esque) absurdity populated by bears, moose, dolphins and hamsters who appear to dwell in various stratified metropolises beneath ours (Lin's) city. And there are aliens too, mostly vegetarian ones who are in with the President. However, wandering lost and alone through this bewildering landscape is Andrew, pizza delivery boy / man (can one with such a humbling occupation truly feel himself a man?) and self-professed musician - we never once hear him sing or play, only refer to singing or playing - who frustrated by not knowing what to think or feel at any given point (the book opens on him being fired by his manager but not caring to understand, which is never followed up on as his manager doesn't seem to know what to do either) turns to a variety of cinematic or literary references, mainly violent ones, to make sense of his ennui. The perfidious nature of his own understanding is exemplified by what turn out to be the penultimate few lines of the book - 
If [Ellen] came he would tell her he was afraid.
He felt a little lonely. He felt good.
This constant and unresolved self interogation is punctuated by random killing rampages, not to mention the aforementioned menagerie. Oh, and did I mention that a particularly depressed dolphin kills Elijah Wood on an island in a fit of self-hating homoeroticism? No? Read into that what you will. 
To cut a long and dangerously pointless recap slightly shorter, for I have many more unresolved resolutions to which to attend, a shortish story about the disengaged in society has been padded out with the degenerate bits perchance cut from the works of Lewis Carroll, but none of which feels wrong (in context you understand, as I hate dolphins; they're worse than Nazis) and all of which serves to underscore the increasing weight of unrest of those in the wrong quadrant of the inequality matrix (i.e. everyone in the west who doesn't earn enough to be safely ensconsed behind his arroyo blanco from the rest of us). Lin may be forcedly absurd but it suits his purpose, if he would agree that he has one. Plus, the dolphins don't come out too well either.

1 comment:

  1. Did I forget to say I really like the book and plan to read "Richard Yates" (in inverted commas as no italics to italicise on comments interface) in teh very near future?

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