An interview with Tao Lin

In 2011, I interviewed internet writer Tao Lin for the ‘underground magazine’ I was running at school. This was at the peak of the hipster subculture. I paid him $25 for the interview. I recently rediscovered the text of the interview in my gmail inbox -

Are you working on a book right now?

Yes, my 3rd novel.

What drew you into film-making?

Megan Boyle and I were searching YouTube for drug-related videos. We found some where people answered the same questions while on drugs and while not on drugs, and edited the footage together. It seemed funny and fun and Megan and I wanted to do the same thing and put it on YouTube. We did that, but kept filming, then both thought it would be fun to make feature-length movies using our MacBooks and iMovie.

What effect do you think the internet has on literature/ will have on literature in the future?

I’m not sure at all. I suspect that to most people who read novels and short stories and poems the internet will have little to no effect, because the internet doesn’t change certain things about humans and the universe such as the existence of death, that time is unidirectional, that no two things of mass can occupy the same space at the same moment in time.

How autobiographical is “Richard Yates”?

For probably 95% of the time while I was writing it and editing it I consulted my memory as a first draft. The other 5% I didn’t think about my memory, but thought about what effect I wanted the scene or sentence to have on the reader.

Are your internet activities “gimmickry” or “performance art”?

To some people it is gimmickry, to some people it is performance art, which I think would be true of any activity. To me I feel like it’s neither of those, because I don’t think “is this gimmickry” or “is this performance art?” before doing something. I think other things like “is this funny?” or “is this exciting?” or, like, “is this stupid?”

Have you ever considered doing stand-up comedy?

I think I haven’t. It seems really stressful. I would be too nervous and afraid.

What’s your favourite band?

I don’t think I have one favorite band. One band I like a lot and have listened to consistently the past ~5 years is “The Stupid Stupid Henchmen.” One can download all their songs free at

What blogs do you read?

Gawker, Jezebel, IO9, HTMLGIANT, Thought Catalog. Blogs by people I’m friends with also.

Whose your favourite dead author?

I don’t know. Some dead writers I like are Jean Rhys, Fernando Pessoa, Kafka.

Are you Carles?


Do you post on 4chan’s /lit/ board?

I have started threads there maybe twice ever. I’ve posted some things there maybe 15 times, after getting Google Alerts that someone has started a thread about me there. Probably ~98% of the posts where they think it’s me have not been me. I like reading the threads there about me.