you are a little bit happier than i am

By Tao Lin

Released: November, 2006 by Acton Books

Length: 72 pages

Genre: Poetry

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired by author


I don’t quite know what to say about this short book of poetry. Wow isn’t completely apt enough. Intense, funny, self-deprecating, and heart breaking, maybe if you mix it together. Throw all those adjectives into a blender and you have Tao Lin’s you are a little bit happier than i am. I couldn’t stop reading this. I read it on a bus ride. I got a few looks when I laughed hard. Sometimes not even because of the content of the poem, but by the title. Some of my favorite titles (not necessarily the poem itself) are: i want to pour orange juice on my face, poems that look weird, pessimism or robotics?, and possibly my all time favorite- book reviewers always praise books as “life-affirming” because the more humans there are on earth the better.

This collection just made me happy, and sad when it ended. I loved his second book of poetry Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that I read first. That was just as unique as this little gem. The way Lin writes his poetry is not in a form we typical read There is something so organic about them. Although he doesn’t capitalize anything like e.e. cummings did, there is no other poet around that writes like Lin, can emulate Lin, and capture a realness that Lin does. Not all of his poems make sense, hence why they are just so great. He just doesn’t care.

I met Lin this past Sunday at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and he basically shrugged at everything I said. Not in a mean way, though. Just, in a way where he just didn’t care. I admire him for that, but also want to shake him because he did agree to do a signing. The least he can do is be a little more forth coming, right? Well, he gave me this gem. And, I will forever be grateful. I have had this book on my goodreads shelf since I joined over three years ago. And, he just gave me his copy that he was reading! Took out his bookmark, post-it, and handed it to me, with a shrug for good measure. I was shocked. No other author I think would do that. He just said he had more copies. Makes up for his shrug and lack of empathy.

I would say I would highly recommend this collection, and I would, but it isn’t for everyone. The poems are not traditional. More stream of conscious writing, if that is even close to what it is. You really have to have an open mind; no real comparisons at the ready. You really will never read a poet quite like him, I think. At least, I haven’t. I haven’t read all poetry, but I can tell you his is the most entertaining because it all seems like one big shrug now that I met him. And, I love that. I respect him for not caring, but caring a lot if the two go together.