Having already published the definitive profile of author Tao Lin by experimenting with his flamboyantly deadpan style, The Observer had a neutral facial expression when it discovered today’s oddly earnest piece about Tao Lin’s new book Richard Yates in none other than the Associated Press. The story does make Tao Lin seem a bit sunnier than he does in other profiles, but it also struggles to wrap its head around this whole fact-or-fiction thing.
Much about Lin seems true and not true, a question mark and exclamation point. The author lives in a gated apartment house in Brooklyn that has a “Beware of Dog” sign out front, even though there is no dog. “Richard Yates” is invented yet includes an index to put the story in “the perspective of ‘real life.’”
So Tao Lin does not own a dog. Or perhaps he does, but the dog happened to be out when the reporter visited. Or maybe his sign is simply a service to passers-by, reminding them that some dogs are quite dangerous and that they might want to maintain a certain wariness around the creatures. Or wait, maybe he’s the dog…metaphorically.