A. D. Jameson's Reviews > Shoplifting from American Apparel

Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin
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Nov 21, 10


A minor modern masterpiece, easily the best thing I've read by Lin, and one of the best new novels I've read by anyone. Do folks still think after this one that Lin isn't deeply committed either to his own writing or to literature? Rather, he strikes me as far more serious than most. An updating of 80s minimalist realism to the present-day, this book is as desperately absurd and emotional as works by Beattie, Carver, L. Moore, J. Williams (the lineage Lin is clearly inhabiting). I read this several times in a row, and found myself moved by both its language (very stylized and controlled, with an amazing mastery over its many juxtapositions) and by the forlorn plight of its protagonist, Sam. The scenes where he's caught shoplifting—and his reaction each time—are heartbreaking in their pathetic earnestness. This novel is also a revision of sorts of Lin's first book (the E one), and he's improved it on every level—especially the ending. Lin is becoming a wonderful realist writer, which is something we need much more of in this fantasy-loving age. (We also need more criticism that takes Lin's work seriously, rather than dismissing it as a stunt.)
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message 1: by Max (new) - rated it 1 star

Max but it is a stunt. it seems more plausible to me that he is doing nothing more than channeling an extremely awkward personality, which he actually has, into characters who are all the same and completely undeveloped. all characters have the same voice. i think the stunt is that it is actually so stupid, but has been marketed into every cranny of the modern lit world, that people have assumed there must be something there of value and have therefore made profoundly supportive statements about his work - as you and several others have done. the context of the work is what is interest, not the work. -- in my opinion. i do enjoy reading these 5 star reviews to get other perspectives though.


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