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A Slate Best Book of the Year
From one of this generation's most talked about and enigmatic writers comes a deeply personal, powerful, and moving novel about family, relationships, accelerating drug use, and the lingering possibility of death.
Taipei by Tao Lin is an ode--or lament--to the way we live now. Following Paul from New York, where he comically navigates Manhattan's art and literary scenes, to Taipei, Taiwan, where he confronts his family's roots, we see one relationship fail, while another is born on the internet and blooms into an unexpected wedding in Las Vegas. Along the way—whether on all night drives up the East Coast, shoplifting excursions in the South, book readings on the West Coast, or ill advised grocery runs in Ohio—movies are made with laptop cameras, massive amounts of drugs are ingested, and two young lovers come to learn what it means to share themselves completely. The result is a suspenseful meditation on memory, love, and what it means to be alive, young, and on the fringe in America, or anywhere else for that matter.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
More affect than substance
I appreciate the way Lin can observe social minutiae in ways that are often telling. And he documents our distance from one another in the age of social media blah blah. But in the end I found this book listless and flat, a neuro-chemical deficit posing as world-view.
Great writing, sometimes lacking in story
Overall I enjoyed this book. The author's writing style is great, very dense and descriptive with long drawn-out sentences with many adjectives. Paul, the main character, isn't exactly a noble protagonist. Sometimes you really root for him, but other times he makes just really bad decisions and his personality can be really annoying in some parts. This, coupled with the fact that in some parts of the book there's really nothing happening, for example, when Paul and others are just sitting around, surfing the Internet, doing drugs constantly. The ending, also, was a disappointment. I greatly enjoyed the writing, the dialogue between, and the relationships between, the characters. The laid back personalities of all the characters in the book was different, and somewhat refreshing. I enjoyed learning about each character in the book and their crazy, zany shenanigans, sometimes it got to be a little too crazy and boring, but was enjoyable for the most part.
Overall, a great book that I would recommend to those who enjoy reading about characters of the younger generation trying to find themselves.
Lucid and Visceral but Frightening and Confusing
The emotions, feelings and fears that Lin describes are insanely accurate, illuminating and are capable of encapsulating the most indescribabke of sensations but the lack of empathy in some of the characters makes the reader fear them for their lack of humanity.
However, the sort of action and events described in the book could not be attritbuted to anyone else, the fact remains that the characters are confusing at times, maybe due to an implied sense of profundity that is only partially explored.