Tao Lin‘s novels include Eeeee Eee Eeee (2007), Richard Yates (2010), and Taipei (2013). Lin is also the author of the novella Shoplifting from American Apparel (2009), the short-story collection Bed (2007), and two books of poetry: you are a little bit happier than i am (2006) and cognitive behavioral therapy (2008). His most recent offering is Selected Tweets (2015), a collaboration with poet–and upcoming Fiction Points interviewee–Mira Gonzalez. Lin is also founder and editor of the press MuuMuu House and cofounder, with writer and filmmaker Megan Boyle, of MDMAfilms, which has released Lin and Boyle’s features MDMA (2011) and Mumblecore (2011), as well as their documentary Bebe Zeva (2011). He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and presented his work at, among other venues, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. He has written for Vice, The Rumpus, and a variety of online publications and platforms. Lin holds a BA in journalism from New York University.
Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?
If I feel like answering the nuns and penguin in a curt manner so they don’t feel encouraged to talk to me more, or if I feel not in the mood to try to define my writing in a sentence or few sentences—which is most of the time—I mumble something like “I don’t know” or “novels” or “myself”. If I feel like talking to the nuns and penguin, or if I am in a good mood and feeling garrulous, I answer something like “my next book is about Terence McKenna and psychedelic drugs and it’s called Beyond Existentialism” then start talking about that more depending on how they respond.