Teri Vlassopoulos's Reviews > Richard Yates

Richard Yates by Tao Lin
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's review
Oct 28, 2010

liked it

There’s so much to say about this book, and I don’t really know if it’s the kind of book that warrants that kind of discussion. Either way, for a book that has elicited polarizing reactions, my overall opinion is fairly middling. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I started off thinking it was a lot funnier than reviews made it out to be, but ultimately it’s a heartbreaking story about an abusive relationship. Tao Lin’s writing style wasn’t distracting for me – it’s consistent, so a satisfying rhythm developed.

The most awful thing about the book is the part we’re supposed to set aside when we read fiction: that the author has admitted that the story is at least partly autobiographical. When I saw Tao Lin read someone asked him what the real life version Dakota Fanning thought of the book, and his reply was something along the lines of, “She was worried people would think she was a bad person,” which makes me want to find her on Gchat and let her know that no one in their right mind who read that book would think SHE was the bad person. But, I don’t know, maybe I’m extrapolating more than I should out of that comment. By writing this paragraph, am I just contributing to gossip or is it part of the criticism? I’m honestly not sure. I should talk more about the role of “knowing what happened for REAL” when reading fiction, but that’s something I’m still trying to figure out for myself.
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