"He often suspected that The Future Was Now."

Today’s Reading: Bed, Tao Lin, pp. 1-157

I’m going to go right out on a limb and say this: Reading Tao Lin’s Bed, I am utterly convinced that I’m reading the juvenalia of a budding literary genius. The prose has a quality that reminds me of nothing except James Joyce’s early writing—a virtuosity lightly held because quickly won, deployed with an almost indifferent facility and ready to be cast off in favor of unforseeable creations. And the sense is only heightened by the book’s occasional tackiness and loose grasp of punctuation, marks of youth (Lin was just 24 when the book was published) that only make the indications of a precocious mastery more clear.
                                   
I feel more confident saying this having already read some of Lin’s subsequent work, like the pop-conceptualism of The Brandon Book Crisis (more on that later), the rigorous neutrality of Shoplifting from American Apparel, the weird little poems, the pop-art publicity stunts at his blog. It’s an amazing range of work that Lin has turned out in barely two years, and he apparently already has another novel read to go.

I might be wrong, of course. The laser-like myopia that gives Lin so much of his idiosyncratic force—a kind of explosive and reluctant narcissism that reaches out only to suck the world in—may well turn against him, limiting his horizons once his most interesting subject—himself—is exhausted. Or his creative versatility might never develop beyond a degree of dilettantism; he may wander off with his cartoon doodles of sad manatees and his indie band named after Jesus and never be heard from again.

But, putting down Bed, feeling disoriented and unlike myself, my perceptions pulsing with a disjointed yet vibrant clarity-haze contracted from the stories themselves like a contact high, today, I’m going to bet against it.