Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts On: Richard Yates (by Tao Lin)

Whenever someone tells me that something they've seen or read or heard is "the worst" thing that they've ever seen or heard or read, I start to get suspicious. To me, it reveals bigger failures about the reader/listener/viewer than the book/album/movie. And the devil's advocate in me wants to like it simply in spite of their dislike, even if I've already seen/heard/read what they're talking about and agree that it's crap.

I recently read the novel Richard Yates by Tao Lin. By the time I finished the first 100 pages, I found myself thinking, "This is the worst book I have ever read." There was no plot, no character arc, not even an apt simile or metaphor or interesting turn of phrase. I got angrier and angrier as I continued to read, and more and more convinced that I was right about this being the worst book I had ever read.

It wasn't until several days after I came to the completely unsatisfying conclusion to Richard Yates (I'm not exaggerating when I say I nearly flung the fucking thing across the room in frustration) that I began to question my reaction to the book. My own devil's advocate started turning against me. Was there something worthwhile in Richard Yates that I missed? Why did I think it was the worst book I'd ever read?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Night at the Fights, a Night at the Opera

In the past month, I have experienced an unusual pair of personal firsts. A few weeks ago, I attended my first live boxing event; a week later, my first opera. (Anyone who knows me will tell you at which event I felt more at-home.) At the surface, there seems little common ground between the oldest, most primal sport, and what some would argue is the highest form of art. But after attending both events, I couldn't help but draw parallels between them.

Prior to the first bout at Windy City Fight Night - UIC Pavilion, January 28th, 2011