Hipster Lit

Another from the series of Juniper Bends Author Collective posts–this time, I reflect on millenial literature and reveal my inner grandma.

Yesterday, after getting off of work to a rainy afternoon, I sat in my blue reading chair and polished off the entirety of Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel. I was left with a sole question upon completion: why does this book exist?

Sure, I’m happy to see a vegan protagonist, even as he jokes about spending gambling winnings on a steak. I’m even happy that Vegan Sam tries to subvert capitalism by shoplifting from everybody’s favorite fair trade corporation, American Apparel. But then again, is he just bored?

So what is this book trying to do? It seems to detail the humdrum exploits of a privileged New York dude who can afford daily iced coffees from various (presumably hip and independent) coffee shops. He is having a quarter-life crisis. He doesn’t ever seem to finish his novel. His ex-girlfriend commits herself and his relationships with other women are by turns childish and empty. He resorts to shoplifting to “feel alive,” I guess.

To me, this bro is just another idiot that I don’t want to be friends with. Nothing Lin writes is especially evocative of the contemporary Sea of Ennui that Vegan Sam and so many others flounder around in for years on end. He just floats, like flotsam. Or jetsam. Whichever.

Pros: The language is basic, which is refreshing in a world of chronically overused adverbs (hah!). But that’s sort of it for me.

Am I missing out on something quintessentially millennial here? As an advocate for smart phones, social media, and yes, even e-readers, does my disinterest in this book unmask me as the big fat fuddy duddy that I am on the inside? Or does it just reveal that I should never, ever move to New York?


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