Genius Ideas: Tao Lin’s ‘Shoplifting from American Apparel’ Soon to be Adapted for Film


Someone once told me Tao Lin was like Bloody Mary: Say his name and he just appears. But now, he will be everywhere. The relentless self-promoter and New York Magazine literary It Person is sometimes hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced his books. Which are experiences. This will all change when Shoplifting from American Apparel soon becomes a movie, which it apparently will.

On an entry posted to his blog, Lin notes that:

shoplifting from american apparel has been optioned for film by sangha films (who last year filmed the human war by noah cicero and are now raising money re post-production, go here to donate) and sold to [a european country, waiting on confirmation] to the acquiring editor of david foster wallace for [his/her country]

And so what if it’s a scrappy production trying to raise money through donations? This is going to be great. Not even joking. Lin’s books are essentially ripped directly from the collective consciousness of pathos and ambivalent id of Young People in Brooklyn and put on paper. Think Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming on methadone and Wellbutrin. I’m not doing this justice. Here, from our book review of Shoplifting written by Ben Beiter:

Lin’s self-discipline in keeping all the book’s events unexciting is astounding: The exclusively declarative sentences just flow by, peaceful and unintrusive, interrupted only by occasional puffs of deadpan humor. “Sam woke around 3:30 P.M. and saw no emails from Sheila. He made a smoothie. He lay on his bed and stared at his computer screen…” etc., for 103 pages. It’s soothing when it’s not horrifying.

Are you seeing where this is going? Williamsburg has yet to have its “generational” television show or film. HBO’s How to Make It In America is a disingenuous joke. If Shoplifting from American Apparel, the movie, is at all true to its almost scientific ambivalence and joke-or-maybe-not spirituality, we can essentially stop people from moving to Brooklyn. You don’t understand. This is going to be spectacular.


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