Tao Lin, "Love Is A Thing On Sale For More Money Than There Exists"

A relationship falls apart as unseen terrorists plan impossible tricks.

(from Bed)

“What if the terrorists opened their own store… and sold bad things?” Garret said. “What would they sell?” he said.
It sometimes seemed to him that for love to work, it had to be fair, that he should tell only half the joke, and she the other half. Otherwise, it would not be love, but something completely else — pity or entertainment, or stand-up comedy. “Well? What would they sell,” Garret said. “I can’t do everything in this relationship.”

Well, it would be easy to call this too cute, too prone to riffing on everyday things like a stand-up. But those feelings dried up as I got sucked into the author’s worldview. It’s a whimsical and morbid place to visit, but pleasant and predictable in its way, full of palatable pop culture references and dreamy, outsider satire. The terrorists are magical, lurking, plotting stupid pranks and vicious acts. The protesters are vague-minded, too prone to diversions, too disorganized. The young lovers are grumpy, immature, lightly doomed. But no matter how much you might expect a boom, what with all the drama queen terrorist imps out there, the end has got to be a gradual disolving. Pretty cool.

4 thoughts on “Tao Lin, "Love Is A Thing On Sale For More Money Than There Exists"

  1. de mogirl

    A lot here for consideration, including your careful choice of words.

    As for immaturity, Garret seems such, with his propensity for games. Though it could be more insecurity, as evidenced in his little “tests” he gives his lady love. All the same, such is very damaging and maturity would have told him so. Her patience with him is admirable.

    These words of the author struck me: “..that for love to work, it had to be fair”. I could not agree more.

    Sadly, some people do not understand what “fairness” is or looks like. Others do, but are driven largely by other considerations: insecurity, control, fear -to deny it.

    And of course when fairness and all it entails (honesty, transparency, thoughtfulness, understanding etc) is denied entry into a relationship right at the outset and it is continually denied, then I agree with the author, that the absence of fairness will seal loves fate to fail. One though, might even question the nature of the love itself, if there is no fairness. For if fairness is absent, can what exists be a mature love?

    “…..what with all the drama queen terrorist imps out there, the end has got to be a gradual dissolving”.

    Perhaps your right and perhaps such is the inevitable conclusion sadly created by the way the whole story was set up and then driven.

    “Love is a thing on Sale..”

    Based on your review and careful thoughts, this might have been a more apt and powerful title, as it speaks of love, but also alludes to the possibility of another level or under current to the story.

    To embrace the full title given to it by Tao Lin, lends itself to a suggestion that a price cannot be put on love – it is priceless and cannot be purchased. I agree with that sentiment whole heartedly, as it applies to a mature love, but I am currently troubled by its use here, given the snippet of the story you provided, the story line and the content of your review/views.

    Thank you, for your views/review all the same Patrick.

    word verification: Skyfx

  2. Tao Lin

    thank you for reviewing my story, patrick.

    how did you get the book, by the way, do you have a galley, or did you read the version in other voices?

  3. Patrick Rapa

    Hey Tao,
    Thanks for writing. In my day job as an A&E editor at a weekly newspaper, I get more books than we could possibly review. So, when I can, when I’m interested enough, I write some of them up here. (So far, no publishers have objected, but I’d respect their wishes if they did.) Turns out I do have that copy of Other Voices; I buy a lot of litmags.
    You really have a novel and a story collection coming out on the same day? That’s intense.
    Your humble moderator,


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