Like the hipster phoenix rising from the polychromatic dumpsters overflowing with moldy kale on Williamsburg’s North Side, alt-lit icon (and alleged statutory rapist) Tao Lin has returned with new work. On Monday, the noted author published a short story on Terraform, Vice’s online hub for “future fiction.”
“Another idea...is...um. Set in 2080,” said Bern in vaguely a different voice than his normal voice. “Parents have set in place a blank mythology espousing nomadism—and set in place certain technological or something limits somehow—for their 3-year-olds, a generation of 3-year-olds. They’ve somehow made it so there are only 3-year-olds and themselves, the parents, who all voluntarily end their own lives, so that a new generation of humans can grow up without agriculture or other ‘cancer’-like qualities that we have in the world today. But...the 3-year-olds grow up and there are rumors that some of their ‘creators’ are alive. This could be told from the perspective of a parent who disagreed with their insane plan to restart humanity and who didn’t commit suicide, and maybe ends up leading a 3-year-old uprising against some unrelated force. It could be absurd, the unrelated force.”
“Nice,” said Lydia after a few seconds. “Can I share one now?” She was going to try to improvise one. “Set in 2088. I feel like someone is staring at the back of my head from extremely far away, from a different galaxy, using an extremely powerful telescope. I feel, at the front of my head, on the surface of my face, safe from their sight. Maybe I’m always only moving in the direction I am so that I remain hidden from whomever is waiting for me to turn around so they can see my face. Is it impossible to see a face from behind?” She was talking slowly, or slower than normal, but she was still impressed and surprised at what she had said, though she didn’t feel happy about it or like it was anything to feel good about.
Bern was very endeared by how Lydia had seemed to say an excerpt from her idea for a book, maybe. Or maybe it was a prose poem. But she had said “can I share one now?” which indicated she would share one of what Bern had shared. Bern had shared ideas for, he thought he had said, science fiction novels or movies. Or maybe books or movies. He knew hadn’t said “prose poems.” Bern thought and felt everything in this paragraph and also thought some other things while Lydia was saying her idea.
The story is signature Lin: deeply self-aware, heavy on dialogue, and fun.
Despite not publishing a novel since 2013’s Taipei, the author has been a regular voice on Twitter. “Found $1800 cash & 7 hits LSD in my room in a thin metal container that I had misplaced last September & forgotten about,” he wrote last week.
Along with Mira Gonzalez, Lin will co-publish Selected Tweets—a book about “bleak, depressed, disturbing, funny, and personal tweets that create a fragmented narrative and show how Twitter can serve as a platform for art, storytelling, and connection”—on June 15. Cool.
[Photo via Flickr/ Noah Kalina]